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ADVANCED

HOME WIRING
Current with Codes through 2014
DC Circuits Transfer Switches Panel Upgrades
Circuit Maps Much More

Contents

Advanced Home Wiring


Introduction
Working Safely

Circuit Maps
Common Household Circuits

Advanced Wiring Projects


Electrical Panels
Installing Circuit Breakers
Installing a Subpanel
Upgrading Service Panels
Grounding & Bonding an Upgraded System
Adding Circuits
Wiring a Room Addition
Wiring a Kitchen
Installing a Solar Light Circuit
Backup Power Supply
Installing a Transfer Switch
Troubleshooting & Repairs
Common Residential Wiring Codes
Electrical Receptacle Installation
Ground-fault (GFCI) & Arc-fault (AFCI) Protection
Junction Boxes, Device Boxes & Enclosures

Credits/Resources
Conversions
Index

Introduction

Home wiring is a skill that is worth developing beyond the basics of replacing a switch or
rewiring a lamp. There is no such thing as a simple wiring project, inasmuch as the
consequences of any mistake can be severe. But advancing your skillset to include more
challenging and complicated projects is the surest way to make your initial investment in
the fundamentals of electrical service pay maximum dividends. This new 3rd edition of
Black & Decker Advanced Home Wiring is directed specifically at homeowners who have
some wiring experience and are interested in upgrading their capabilities.
Home wiring projects fall into three general categories: installing wiring fixtures such as
ceiling lights or baseboard heaters; installing or upgrading wiring circuitry; and
troubleshooting and repair. Youll find advanced-level projects in all three categories, but
for the most part, the more challenging projects tend to be in the circuitry and repair
groups. Almost all of the advanced wiring projects featured in this book involve new
circuitry, panel upgrades, or troubleshooting with diagnostic equipment. Among the highlevel projects youre not likely to find in other DIY wiring books: making a direct-current,
solar-electric circuit; upgrading the grounding and bonding on your new 200-amp or larger
home circuit; installing an automatic transfer switch for your backup power supply; and
using a multimeter to precisely locate an open neutral in a home circuit.
Even though the projects found in this book are advanced in nature, do not attempt
any of them unless you are confident in your abilities. Consult a professional electrician if
you have any concernsin many cases your best solution might be to do some of the work
yourself, such as pulling new sheathed cable through walls, and to have the electrical
contractor do the other work, such as making the connections. Because most wiring
projects require a permit from your local building department, you will need to be able to
plot out and explain clearly your project strategies, materials, and costs, and in some cases
arrange for field inspections. But do keep in mind that home wiring can be a fun and
fascinating pursuit, and successfully accomplishing a major project is personally gratifying
and can also save you substantial amounts of money.

Working Safely

Safety should be the primary concern of anyone working with electricity. Although most
household electrical repairs are simple and straightforward, always use caution and good
judgment when working with electrical wiring or devices. Common sense can prevent
accidents.
The basic rule of electrical safety is: Always turn off power to the area or device you are
working on. At the main service panel, remove the fuse or shut off the circuit breaker that
controls the circuit you are servicing. Then check to make sure the power is off by testing
for power with a voltage tester. Tip: Test a live circuit with the voltage tester to verify that it is
working before you rely on it. Restore power only when the repair or replacement project is
complete.
Follow the safety tips shown on these pages. Never attempt an electrical project beyond
your skill or confidence level. Never attempt to repair or replace your main service panel
or service entrance head. These are jobs for a qualified electrician and require that the
power company shut off power to your house.

Shut power OFF at the main service panel or the main fuse box before beginning any
work.

Create a circuit index and affix it to the inside of the door to your main service panel.
Update it as needed.

Confirm power is OFF by testing at the outlet, switch, or fixture with a voltage tester.

Use only UL-approved electrical parts or devices. These devices have been tested for
safety by Underwriters Laboratories.

Tips for Working Safely

Wear rubber-soled shoes while working on electrical projects. On damp floors, stand on a
rubber mat or dry wooden boards.

Use fiberglass or wood ladders when making routine household repairs near the service
mast.

Extension cords are for temporary use only. Cords must be rated for the intended usage.

Breakers and fuses must be compatible with the panel manufacturer and match the
circuit capacity.

Never alter the prongs of a plug to fit a receptacle. If possible, install a new grounded
receptacle.

Do not penetrate walls or ceilings without first shutting off electrical power to the
circuits that may be hidden.

Anchor the cable to the side of the framing members at least 1-1/4 from the edge using
plastic staples. NM (nonmetallic) cable should be stapled every 4-1/2 ft. and within 8 of
each electrical box.

Install metal nail guards to protect cable from damage. Nail guards are available at
hardware stores and home centers.

Anchor the cable to the electrical box with a cable clamp. Several types of cable clamps
are available at hardware stores and home centers.

Bring installation up to code by enclosing the splice inside a metal or plastic electrical box.
Make sure the box is large enough to accommodate the number of wires it contains.

Problem: Bare wire extends past a screw terminal. Exposed wire can cause a short circuit
if it touches the metal box or another circuit wire.

Solution: Clip the wire and reconnect it to the screw terminal. In a proper connection,
the bare wire wraps completely around the screw terminal, and the plastic insulation just
touches the screw head.

Problem: A recessed electrical box is hazardous, especially if the wall or ceiling surface is
made from a flammable material, like wood paneling. The National Electrical Code
prohibits this type of installation.

Solution: Add an extension ring to bring the face of the electrical box flush with the
surface. Extension rings come in several sizes and are available at hardware stores.

Problem: Crowded electrical box (shown cutaway) makes electrical repairs difficult. This
type of installation is prohibited because wires can be damaged easily when a receptacle or
switch is installed.

Solution: Replace the electrical box with a deeper electrical box.

Circuit Maps

The circuit maps on the following pages show the most common wiring variations for
typical electrical devices. Most new wiring you install will match one or more of the maps
shown. Find the maps that match your situation and use them to plan your circuit layouts.
Note: For clarity, all grounding conductors in the circuit maps are colored green. In practice, the
grounding wires inside sheathed cables usually are bare copper.

Circuit Maps:

1. 120-volt duplex receptacles wired in sequence


2. GFCI receptacles (single-location protection)
3. GFCI receptacle, switch & light fixture (wired for multiple location protection)
4. Single-pole switch & light fixture (light fixture at end of cable run)
5. Single-pole switch & light fixture (switch at end of cable run)
6. Single-pole switch & two light fixtures (switch between light fixtures, light at start of
cable run)
7. Single-pole switch & light fixture, duplex receptacle (switch at start of cable run)
8. Switch-controlled split receptacle, duplex receptacle (switch at start of cable run)
9. Switch-controlled split receptacle (switch at end of cable run)
10. Double receptacle circuit with shared neutral wire (receptacles alternate circuits)
11. Double receptacle small-appliance circuit with GFCIs & shared neutral wire
12. Double receptacle small-appliance circuit with GFCIs & separate neutral wires
13. 120/240-volt range receptacle
14. 240-volt baseboard heaters, thermostat
15. 240-volt appliance receptacle
16. Ganged single-pole switches controlling separate light fixtures
17. Ganged switches controlling a light fixture and a vent fan
18. Three-way switches & light fixture (fixture between switches)
19. Three-way switches & light fixture (fixture at start of cable run)
20. Three-way switches & light fixture (fixture at end of cable run)
21. Three-way switches & light fixture with duplex receptacle
22. Three-way switches & multiple light fixtures (fixtures between switches)
23. Three-way switches & multiple light fixtures (fixtures at beginning of run)
24. Four-way switch & light fixture (fixture at start of cable run)
25. Four-way switch & light fixture (fixture at end of cable run)
26. Multiple four-way switches controlling a light fixture
27. Ceiling fan/light fixture controlled by ganged switches (fan at end of cable run)
28. Ceiling fan/light fixture controlled by ganged switches (switches at end of cable run)

Common Household Circuits


1. 120-VOLT DUPLEX RECEPTACLES WIRED IN SEQUENCE
Use this layout to link any number of duplex receptacles in a basic lighting/receptacle
circuit. The last receptacle in the cable run is connected like the receptacle shown at the
right side of the circuit map below. All other receptacles are wired like the receptacle
shown on the left side. Requires two-wire cables.

2. GFCI RECEPTACLES (SINGLE-LOCATION PROTECTION


Use this layout when receptacles located in a room with a water source, like a kitchen or a
bathroom. In this configuration, only devices plugged into the GFCI receptacle will be
protectedthe downstream receptacle is not wired in series and will continue to function
if the GFCI trips. Requires two-wire cables. Where a GFCI must protect other fixtures, use
circuit map 3.

3. GFCI RECEPTACLE, SWITCH & LIGHT FIXTURE (WIRED FOR MULTIPLELOCATION PROTECTION)
In some locations, such as an outdoor circuit, it is a good idea to connect a GFCI receptacle
so it also provides shock protection to the wires and fixtures that continue to the end of
the circuit. Wires from the power source are connected to the line screw terminals;
outgoing wires are connected to load screws. Requires two-wire cables.

4. SINGLE-POLE SWITCH & LIGHT FIXTURE (LIGHT FIXTURE AT END OF CABLE


RUN)
Use this layout for light fixtures in basic lighting/receptacle circuits throughout the home.
It is often used as an extension to a series of receptacles (circuit map 1). Requires two-wire
cables.

5. SINGLE-POLE SWITCH & LIGHT FIXTURE (SWITCH AT END OF CABLE RUN)


Use this layout, sometimes called a switch loop, where it is more practical to locate a
switch at the end of the cable run. In the last length of cable, both insulated wires are hot;
the white wire is tagged with black tape at both ends to indicate it is hot. Requires twowire cables.

6. SINGLE-POLE SWITCH & TWO LIGHT FIXTURES (SWITCH BETWEEN LIGHT


FIXTURES, LIGHT AT START OF CABLE RUN)
Use this layout when you need to control two fixtures from one single-pole switch and the
switch is between the two lights in the cable run. Power feeds to one of the lights.
Requires two-wire and three-wire cables.

7. SINGLE-POLE SWITCH & LIGHT FIXTURE, DUPLEX RECEPTACLE (SWITCH AT


START OF CABLE RUN)
Use this layout to continue a circuit past a switched light fixture to one or more duplex
receptacles. To add multiple receptacles to the circuit, see circuit map 1. Requires twowire and three-wire cables.

8. SWITCH-CONTROLLED SPLIT RECEPTACLE, DUPLEX RECEPTACLE (SWITCH


AT START OF CABLE RUN)
This layout lets you use a wall switch to control a lamp plugged into a wall receptacle.
Only the bottom half of the first receptacle is controlled by the wall switch; the top half of
the receptacle and all additional receptacles on the circuit are always hot. Requires twowire and three-wire cables.

9. SWITCH-CONTROLLED SPLIT RECEPTACLE (SWITCH AT END OF CABLE


RUN)
Use this switch loop layout to control a split receptacle (see circuit map 7) from an end-ofrun circuit location. The bottom half of the receptacle is controlled by the wall switch,
while the top half is always hot. White circuit wire attached to the switch is tagged with
black tape to indicate it is hot. Requires two-wire cable.

10. DOUBLE RECEPTACLE CIRCUIT WITH SHARED NEUTRAL WIRE


(RECEPTACLES ALTERNATE CIRCUITS)
This layout features two 120-volt circuits wired with one three-wire cable connected to a
double-pole circuit breaker. The black hot wire powers one circuit; the red wire powers
the other. The white wire is a shared neutral that serves both circuits. When wired with
12/2 and 12/3 cable and GFCI receptacles rated for 20-amps, this layout can be used for
the two small-appliance circuits required in a kitchen.

11. DOUBLE RECEPTACLE SMALL-APPLIANCE CIRCUIT WITH GFCIS & SHARED


NEUTRAL WIRE
Use this layout variation of circuit map 10 to wire a double receptacle circuit when code
requires that some of the receptacles be GFCIs. Each GFCI is wired for single-location
protection (see circuit map 2). Requires three-wire and two-wire cables. Best used when
retrofitting GFCI receptaclesin new construction it is cheaper to wire so one GFCI
protects multiple locations.

12. DOUBLE RECEPTACLE SMALL APPLIANCE CIRCUIT WITH GFCIS &


SEPARATE NEUTRAL WIRES
If the room layout or local codes do not allow for a shared neutral wire, use this layout
instead. The GFCIs should be wired for single-location protection (see circuit map 2).
Requires two-wire cable.

13. 120/240-VOLT RANGE RECEPTACLE


This layout is for a 40 or 50-amp, 120/240-volt dedicated appliance circuit wired with 8/3
or 6/3 copper cable, as required by code for a large kitchen range. The black and red circuit
wires, connected to a double-pole circuit breaker in the circuit breaker panel, each bring
120 volts of power to the setscrew terminals on the receptacle. The white circuit wire
attached to the neutral bus bar in the circuit breaker panel is connected to the neutral
setscrew terminal on the receptacle.

14. 240-VOLT BASEBOARD HEATERS, THERMOSTAT


This layout is typical for a series of 240-volt baseboard heaters controlled by a wall
thermostat. Except for the last heater in the circuit, all heaters are wired as shown below.
The last heater is connected to only one cable. The size of the circuit and cables are
determined by finding the total wattage of all heaters. Requires two-wire cable.

15. 240-VOLT APPLIANCE RECEPTACLE


This layout represents a 20-amp, 240-volt dedicated appliance circuit wired with 12/2
cable, as required by code for a large window air conditioner. Receptacles are available in
both singleplex (shown) and duplex styles. The black and the white circuit wires
connected to a double-pole breaker each bring 120 volts of power to the receptacle
(combined, they bring 240 volts). The white wire is tagged with black tape to indicate it is
hot.

16. GANGED SINGLE-POLE SWITCHES CONTROLLING SEPARATE LIGHT


FIXTURES
This layout lets you place two switches controlled by the same 120-volt circuit in one
double-gang electrical box. A single feed cable provides power to both switches. A similar
layout with two feed cables can be used to place switches from different circuits in the
same box. Requires two-wire cable.

17. GANGED SWITCHES CONTROLLING A LIGHT FIXTURE AND A VENT FAN


This layout lets you place two switches controlled by the same 120-volt circuit in one
double-gang electrical box. A single feed cable provides power to both switches. A
standard switch controls the light fixture and a time-delay switch controls the vent fan.

18. THREE-WAY SWITCHES & LIGHT FIXTURE (FIXTURE BETWEEN SWITCHES)


This layout for three-way switches lets you control a light fixture from two locations. Each
switch has one common screw terminal and two traveler screws. Circuit wires attached to
the traveler screws run between the two switches, and hot wires attached to the common
screws bring current from the power source and carry it to the light fixture. Requires twowire and three-wire cables.

19. THREE-WAY SWITCHES & LIGHT FIXTURE (FIXTURE AT START OF CABLE


RUN)
Use this layout variation of circuit map 19 where it is more convenient to locate the fixture
ahead of the three-way switches in the cable run. Requires two-wire and three-wire
cables.

20. THREE-WAY SWITCHES & LIGHT FIXTURE (FIXTURE AT END OF CABLE RUN)
This variation of the three-way switch layout (circuit map 20) is used where it is more
practical to locate the fixture at the end of the cable run. Requires two-wire and threewire cables.

21. THREE-WAY SWITCHES & LIGHT FIXTURE WITH DUPLEX RECEPTACLE


Use this layout to add a receptacle to a three-way switch configuration (circuit map 21).
Requires two-wire and three-wire cables.

22. THREE-WAY SWITCHES & MULTIPLE LIGHT FIXTURES (FIXTURES BETWEEN


SWITCHES)
This is a variation of circuit map 20. Use it to place multiple light fixtures between two
three-way switches where power comes in at one of the switches. Requires two-and
three-wire cable.

23. THREE-WAY SWITCHES & MULTIPLE LIGHT FIXTURES (FIXTURES AT


BEGINNING OF RUN)
This is a variation of circuit map 21. Use it to place multiple light fixtures at the beginning
of a run controlled by two three-way switches. Power comes in at the first fixture.
Requires two-and three-wire cable.

24. FOUR-WAY SWITCH & LIGHT FIXTURE (FIXTURE AT START OF CABLE RUN)
This layout lets you control a light fixture from three locations. The end switches are threeway and the middle is four-way. A pair of three-wire cables enter the box of the four-way
switch. The white and red wires from one cable attach to the top pair of screw terminals
(line 1) and the white and red wires from the other cable attaches to the bottom screw
terminals (line 2). Requires two three-way switches and one four-way switch and twowire and three-wire cables.

25. FOUR-WAY SWITCH & LIGHT FIXTURE (FIXTURE AT END OF CABLE RUN)
Use this layout variation of circuit map 26 where it is more practical to locate the fixture at
the end of the cable run. Requires two three-way switches and one four-way switch and
two-wire and three-wire cables.

26. MULTIPLE FOUR-WAY SWITCHES CONTROLLING A LIGHT FIXTURE


This alternate variation of the four-way switch layout (circuit map 27) is used where three
or more switches will control a single fixture. The outer switches are three-way and the
middle are four-way. Requires two three-way switches and two four-way switches and
two-wire and three-wire cables.

27. CEILING FAN/LIGHT FIXTURE CONTROLLED BY GANGED SWITCHES (FAN


AT END OF CABLE RUN)
This layout is for a combination ceiling fan/light fixture controlled by a speed-control
switch and dimmer in a double-gang switch box. Requires two-wire and three-wire cables.

28. CEILING FAN/LIGHT FIXTURE CONTROLLED BY GANGED SWITCHES


(SWITCHES AT END OF CABLE RUN)
Use this switch loop layout variation when it is more practical to install the ganged speed
control and dimmer switches for the ceiling fan at the end of the cable run. Requires twowire and three-wire cables.

Advanced Wiring Projects

The following pages contain step-by-step information and photos that reveal exactly how
to accomplish several of the most common advanced home wiring projects. Most of these
projects fall into three basic categories: panel projects that are accomplished in the main
service panel or an electrical subpanel; adding new electrical circuits; and troubleshooting.
To allow ample space for demonstrating the specific techniques and strategies that are
necessary for these projects, we have not gone into great detail for some of the more basic

planning and materials-handling steps that every project should includeno matter how
advanced it may be. Basic mapping of your system and circuitry, estimating materials,
applying for permits and arranging for inspections are all important to the safe conduct of
any electrical project. If you are unfamiliar with the requirements for any of these steps,
consult your local electrical inspector for advice. Drawing an accurate circuit map may not
be glamorous or advanced in some definitions, but it is critically important.

In this chapter:
Electrical Panels
Installing Circuit Breakers
Installing a Subpanel
Upgrading Service Panels
Grounding & Bonding an Upgraded System
Adding Circuits
Wiring a Room Addition
Wiring a Kitchen
Installing a Solar Light Circuit
Backup Power Supply
Installing a Transfer Switch
Common Residential Wiring Codes
Electrical Receptacle Installation
Ground-fault (GFCI) & Arc-fault (AFCI) Protection
Junction Boxes, Device Boxes & Enclosures

Electrical Panels

Every home has a main service panel that distributes electrical current to the individual
circuits. The main service panel usually is found in the basement, garage, or utility area,
and can be identified by its metal casing. Before making any repair to your electrical
system, you must shut off power to the correct circuit at the main service panel. The
service panel should be indexed so circuits can be identified easily.
Service panels vary in appearance, depending on the age of the system. Very old wiring
may operate on 30-amp service that has only two circuits. New homes can have 200-amp
service with 30 or more circuits. Find the size of the service by reading the amperage
rating printed on the main fuse block or main circuit breaker.
Regardless of age, all service panels have fuses or circuit breakers that control each
circuit and protect them from overloads. In general, older service panels use fuses, while
newer service panels use circuit breakers.
In addition to the main service panel, your electrical system may have a subpanel that
controls some of the circuits in the home. A subpanel has its own circuit breakers or fuses
and is installed to control circuits that have been added to an existing wiring system.
The subpanel resembles the main service panel but is usually smaller. It may be located
near the main panel, or it may be found near the areas served by the new circuits. Garages
and basements that have been updated often have their own subpanels. If your home has
a subpanel, make sure that its circuits are indexed correctly.
When handling fuses or circuit breakers, make sure the area around the service
panel is dry. Never remove the protective cover on the service panel. After turning off a
circuit to make electrical repairs, remember to always test the circuit for power before
touching any wires.

The main service panel is the heart of your wiring system. As our demand for household
energy has increased, the panels have also grown in capacity. Today, a 200-amp panel is
considered the minimum for new construction.

A circuit breaker panel providing 100 amps or more of power is common in wiring
systems installed during the 1960s and later. A circuit breaker panel is housed in a gray
metal cabinet that contains two rows of individual circuit breakers. The size of the service
can be identified by reading the amperage rating of the main circuit breaker, which is
located at the top or bottom of the main service panel.
A 100-amp service panel is now the minimum standard for all new housing. It is
considered adequate for a medium-sized house with no more than three major electric
appliances. However, most newer houses have a 200-amp or larger panel.

To shut off power to individual circuits in a circuit breaker panel, flip the lever on the
appropriate circuit breaker to the OFF position. To shut off the power to the entire house,
turn the main circuit breaker or breakers to the OFF position.

A 60-amp fuse panel often is found in wiring systems installed between 1950 and 1965. It
usually is housed in a gray metal cabinet that contains four individual plug fuses, plus one
or two pull-out fuse blocks that hold cartridge fuses. This type of panel is regarded as
adequate for a small, 1,100-square-foot house that has no more than one 240-volt
appliance. Many homeowners update 60-amp service to 100 amps or more so that
additional lighting and appliance circuits can be added to the system. Home loan
programs also may require that 60-amp service be updated before a home can qualify for
financing.
To shut off power to a circuit, carefully unscrew the plug fuse, touching only its insulated
rim. To shut off power to the entire house, hold the handle of the main fuse block and pull

sharply to remove it. Major appliance circuits are controlled with another cartridge fuse
block. Shut off the appliance circuit by pulling out this fuse block.

Circuit Breaker Panels


The circuit breaker panel is the electrical distribution center for your home. It divides the
current into branch circuits that are carried throughout the house. Each branch circuit is
controlled by a circuit breaker that protects the wires from dangerous current overloads.
When installing new circuits, the last step is to connect the wires to new circuit breakers
at the panel. Working inside a circuit breaker panel is not dangerous if you follow basic
safety procedures. Always shut off the main circuit breaker and test for power before
touching any parts inside the panel, and never touch the service wire lugs. If unsure of
your own skills, hire an electrician to make the final circuit connections. (If you have an
older electrical service with fuses instead of circuit breakers, always have an electrician
make these final hookups.)
If the main circuit breaker panel does not have enough open slots to hold new circuit
breakers, install a subpanel (page 34). This job is well within the skill level of an
experienced do-it-yourselfer, although you can also hire an electrician to install the
subpanel.

Before installing any new wiring, evaluate your electrical service to make sure it
provides enough current to support both the existing wiring and any new circuits. If your
service does not provide enough power, have an electrician upgrade it to a higher amp
rating. During the upgrade, the electrician will install a new circuit breaker panel with
enough extra breaker slots for the new circuits you want to install.

Safety Warning
Never touch any parts inside a circuit breaker panel until you have checked for power
(page 29). Circuit breaker panels differ in appearance, depending on the manufacturer.
Never begin work in a circuit breaker panel until you understand its layout and can
identify the parts.

Installing Circuit Breakers


The last step in a wiring project is connecting circuits at the breaker panel. After this is
done, the work is ready for the final inspection.
Circuits are connected at the main breaker panel, if it has enough open slots, or at a
circuit breaker subpanel (page 34). When working at a subpanel, make sure the feeder
breaker at the main panel has been turned off, and test for power (photo, right) before
touching any parts in the subpanel.
Make sure the circuit breaker amperage does not exceed the ampacity of the circuit
wires you are connecting to it. Also be aware that circuit breaker styles and installation
techniques vary according to manufacturer. Use breakers designed for your type of panel.
For most rooms in a home, in addition to the kitchen, basement, and bathroom, an AFCI
breaker needs to be installed.

Tools & Materials


Screwdriver
Hammer
Pencil
Combination tool
Cable ripper
Circuit tester
Pliers
Cable clamps
Single-and double-pole circuit breakers

Test for current before touching any parts inside a circuit breaker panel. With main
breaker turned off but all other breakers turned on, touch one probe of a neon tester to the
neutral bus bar, and touch the other probe to each setscrew on one of the double-pole
breakers (not the main breaker). If tester does not light for either setscrew, it is safe to work
in the panel. Note: Touchless circuit testers are preferred in most situations where you are testing
for current because theyre safer. But in some instances youll need a tester with individual probes to
properly check for current.

How to Connect Circuit Breakers

Shut off the main circuit breaker in the main circuit breaker panel (if you are working in
a subpanel, shut off the feeder breaker in the main panel). Remove the panel cover plate,
taking care not to touch the parts inside the panel. Test for power (photo, top).

Open a knockout in the side of the circuit breaker panel using a screwdriver and
hammer. Attach a cable clamp to the knockout.

Hold cable across the front of the panel near the knockout, and mark sheathing about
1/2 inside the edge of the panel. Strip the cable from the marked line to the end using a
cable ripper. (There should be 18 to 24 of excess cable.) Insert the cable through the
clamp and into the service panel, then tighten the clamp.

Bend the bare copper grounding wire around the inside edge of the panel to an open
setscrew terminal on the grounding bus bar. Insert the wire into the opening on the bus
bar, and tighten the setscrew. Fold excess wire around the inside edge of the panel.

For 120-volt circuits, bend the white circuit wire around the outside of the panel to an
open setscrew terminal on the neutral bus bar. Clip away excess wire, then strip 1/2 of
insulation from the wire using a combination tool. Insert the wire into the terminal
opening, and tighten the setscrew.

Strip 1/2 of insulation from the end of the black circuit wire. Insert the wire into the

setscrew terminal on a new single-pole circuit breaker, and tighten the setscrew.

Slide one end of the circuit breaker onto the guide hook, then press it firmly against the
bus bar until it snaps into place. (Breaker installation may vary, depending on the
manufacturer.) Fold excess black wire around the inside edge of the panel.

Variations: 120/240-volt circuits (top): Connect red and black wires to double-pole
breaker. Connect white wire to neutral bus bar, and grounding wire to grounding bus bar.
For 240-volt circuits (bottom), attach white and black wires to double-pole breaker, tagging
white wire with black tape. There is no neutral bus bar connection on this circuit.

Tip: Remove the appropriate breaker knockout on the panel cover plate to make room for
the new circuit breaker. A single-pole breaker requires one knockout, while a double-pole
breaker requires two knockouts. Reattach the cover plate, and label the new circuit on the
panel index.

Installing a Subpanel

Install a circuit breaker subpanel if the main circuit breaker panel does not have enough
open breaker slots for the new circuits you are planning. Called non-service rated panels
in most code books, the subpanel serves as a second distribution center for connecting
circuits. It receives power from a double-pole feeder circuit breaker you install in the main
circuit breaker panel.
If the main service panel is so full that there is no room for the double-pole subpanel
feeder breaker, you can reconnect some of the existing 120-volt circuits to special slimline
breakers (photos below). Note: There are limits to how many slimline breakers you may use in a
single panel.
Plan your subpanel installation carefully, making sure your electrical service supplies
enough power to support the extra load of the new subpanel circuits. Assuming your main
service is adequate, consider installing an oversized subpanel feeder breaker in the main
panel to provide enough extra amps to meet the needs of future wiring projects.
Also consider the physical size of the subpanel, and choose one that has enough extra
slots to hold circuits you may want to install later. The smallest panels have room for up to
six single-pole breakers (or three double-pole breakers), while the largest models can hold
up to 20 single-pole breakers.
Subpanels often are mounted near the main circuit breaker panel. Or, for convenience,
they can be installed close to the areas they serve, such as in a new room addition or a
garage. In a finished room, a subpanel can be painted or housed in a decorative cabinet so
it is less of a visual distraction. If it is covered, make sure the subpanel is easily accessible
and clearly identified.

Tools & Materials


Hammer
Screwdriver
Circuit tester
Cable ripper
Combination tool
Screws
Cable clamps
Three-wire NM cable
Cable staples
Double-pole circuit breaker
Circuit breaker subpanel
Slimline circuit breakers

To conserve space in a service panel, you can replace single-pole breakers with slimline
breakers. Slimline breakers take up half the space of standard breakers, allowing you to fit
two circuits into one single slot on the service panel. In the service panel shown above,
four single-pole 120-volt breakers were replaced with slimline breakers to provide the
double opening needed for a 30-amp, 240-volt subpanel feeder breaker. Use slimline
breakers (if your municipality allows them) with the same amp rating as the standard
single-pole breakers you are removing, and make sure they are approved for use in your
panel.

How to Install a Subpanel

Mount the subpanel at shoulder height following manufacturers recommendations. The


subpanel can be mounted to the sides of studs or to plywood attached between two studs.
Panel shown here extends 1/2 past the face of studs so it will be flush with the finished
wall surface.

Open a knockout in the subpanel using a screwdriver and hammer. Run the feeder
cable from the main circuit breaker panel to the subpanel, leaving about 2 ft. of excess
cable at each end.

Attach a cable clamp to the knockout in the subpanel. Insert the cable into the subpanel,
then anchor it to framing members within 8 of each panel, and every 4 ft. thereafter.

Tips for a Subpanel Installation


1 Calculate your maximum feeder load (consult your local electrical inspector) and

multiply by 1.25. This safety adjustment is required by the National Electrical Code.
Convert the load into amps by dividing by 230. This gives the required amperage
needed to power the subpanel.
2 For the subpanel feeder breaker, choose a double-pole circuit breaker with an amp
rating equal to or greater than the required subpanel amperage. Example: In a room
addition that requires 27 amps, choose a 30-amp double-pole feeder breaker.
3 For the feeder cable bringing power from the main circuit breaker panel to the
subpanel, choose three-wire NM copper cable with an ampacity equal to the rating of
the subpanel feeder breaker. Example: For a 40-amp subpanel feeder breaker, choose
8/3 cable for the feeder.
4 If the subpanel is installed in a separate building from the primary dwelling, such as a
garage, the subpanel must be grounded to earth with its own ground rod.

Strip away outer sheathing from the feeder cable using a cable ripper. Leave at least 1/4
of sheathing extending into the subpanel. Tighten the cable clamp screws so cable is held
securely but not so tightly that the wire sheathing is crushed.

Strip 1/2 of insulation from the white neutral feeder wire, and attach it to the main lug
on the subpanel neutral bus bar. Connect the grounding wire to a setscrew terminal on
the grounding bus bar. Fold excess wire around the inside edge of the subpanel.

Strip away 1/2 of insulation from the red and the black feeder wires. Attach one wire to
the main lug on each of the hot bus bars. Fold excess wire around the inside edge of the
subpanel.

At the main circuit breaker panel, shut off the main circuit breaker, then remove the
coverplate and test for power (page 32). If necessary, make room for the double-pole
feeder breaker by removing single-pole breakers and reconnecting the wires to slimline
circuit breakers. Open a knockout for the feeder cable using a hammer and screwdriver.

Strip away the outer sheathing from the feeder cable so that at least 1/4 of sheathing
will reach into the main service panel. Attach a cable clamp to the cable, then insert the
cable into the knockout, and anchor it by threading a locknut onto the clamp. Tighten the
locknut by driving a screwdriver against the lugs. Tighten the clamp screws so the cable is
held securely, but not so tightly that the cable sheathing is crushed.

Bend the bare copper wire from the feeder cable around the inside edge of the main
circuit breaker panel, and connect it to one of the setscrew terminals on the grounding bus
bar.

Strip away 1/2 of insulation from the white feeder wire. Attach the wire to one of the
setscrew terminals on the neutral bus bar. Fold excess wire around the inside edge of the
service panel.

Strip 1/2 of insulation from the red and the black feeder wires. Attach one wire to each
of the setscrew terminals on the double-pole feeder breaker. Note: If your subpanel arrived
with a preinstalled grounding screw in the panel back, remove and discard it.

Hook the end of the feeder circuit breaker over the guide hooks on the panel, then push
the other end forward until the breaker snaps onto the hot bus bars (follow
manufacturers directions). Fold excess wire around the inside edge of the circuit breaker
panel.

If necessary, open two knockouts where the double-pole feeder breaker will fit, then
reattach the cover plate. Label the feeder breaker on the circuit index. Turn main breaker
on, but leave feeder breaker off until all subpanel circuits have been connected and
inspected.

Upgrading Service Panels

Only a generation ago, fuse boxes were commonplace. But as our demands for power
increased, homeowners replaced the 60-amp boxes with larger, safer, and more reliable
circuit breaker panels. Typical new homes were built with perfectly adequate 100-amp
load centers. But today, as average home size has risen to more than 2,500 sq. ft. and the
number of home electronics has risen exponentially, 100 amps is adequate service. As a
result, many homeowners have upgraded to 200-amp service, and new single-family
homes often include 250 amps or even 400 amps of power.
Upgrading your electrical service panel from 100 amps to 200 amps is an ambitious
project that requires a lot of forethought. To do the job, you will need to have your utility
company disconnect your house from electrical service at the transformer that feeds your
house. Not only does this involve working them into your schedule, it means you will have
no power during the project. You can rent a portable generator to provide a circuit or two,
or you can run a couple extension cords from a friendly neighbor. But unless you are a very
fast worker, plan on being without power for at least one to two days while the project is
in process.
Also check with your utility company to make sure you know what equipment is theirs
and what belongs to you. In most cases, the electric meter and everything on the street
side belongs to the power company, and the meter base and everything on the house side
is yours. Be aware that if you tamper with the sealed meter in any way, you likely will be
fined. Utility companies will not re-energize your system without approval from your
inspecting agency.
Upgrading a service panel is a major project. Do not hesitate to call for help at any point
if youre unsure what to do. It is a good idea to alert your utility about the upgrades. They
can check the service drop size to make sure it is adequate.

Tools & Materials


200-amp load center (service panel)
200-amp bypass meter base
Circuit breakers
Schedule 80 or IMC conduit and fittings
Weatherhead
Service entry cable
Circuit wires
Plywood backer board
Screwdrivers
Drill/driver
Tape
Allen wrench

Circuit tester
Multimeter

Modern homeowners consume more power than our forebears, and it is often necessary to
upgrade the electrical service to keep pace. While homeowners are not allowed to make
the final electrical service connections, removing the old panel and installing the new
panel and meter base yourself can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Service Entry Options

Aboveground meter with riser. In this common configuration, the power cables from the
closest transformer (called the service drop) are connected to the power distribution
system in your house inside a protective hood called a weatherhead. The service cables
from the weatherhead are routed to a power meter thats owned by your utility company
but is housed in a base thats considered your property. From the meter the cables (called
service entry conductors or SECs) enter your house through the wall and are routed to the
main service panel, where they are connected to the main circuit breaker.

Underground service lateral. Increasingly, homebuilders are choosing to have power


supplied to their new homes underground instead of an overhead service drop. Running
the cables in the ground eliminates problems with power outages caused by ice
accumulation or fallen trees, but it entails a completely different set of cable and conduit
requirements. For the homeowner, however, the differences are minimal because the
hookups are identical once the power service reaches the meter.

Locating Your New Panel


Local codes dictate where the main service panel may be placed relative to other parts
of your home. Although the codes may vary (and always take precedence), national
codes stipulate that a service panel (or any other distribution panel) may not be located
near flammable materials, in a bathroom, or directly above a workbench or other
permanent work station or appliance. The panel also cant be located in a crawl space.
The panel must be framed with at least 36 of clear space on all sides. If you are
installing a new service entry hookup, there are many regulations regarding height of
the service drop and the meter (the meter should be located 66 above grade). Contact
your local inspections office for specific regulations.

All the equipment youll need to upgrade your main panel is sold at most larger building
centers. It includes (A) a new 200-amp panel; (B) a 200-amp bypass meter base (also called
a socket); (C) individual circuit breakers (if your new panel is the same brand as your old
ones you may be able to reuse the old breakers); (D) new, THW, THHW, THWN-2. RHW,
RHW-2, XHHW (2/0 copper seen here); (E) 2 dia. rigid conduit; (F) weatherhead shroud
for mast.

A shutoff switch next to the electric meter is required if your main service panel is too far
away from the point where the service cable enters your house. The maximum distance
allowed varies widely, from as little as 3 ft. to more than 10 ft. Wiring the service cable
through the shutoff has the effect of transforming your main service panel into a
subpanel, which will impact how the neutral and ground wires are attached (see
Subpanels, page 34).

How to Replace a Main Service Panel

Shut off power to the house at the transformer. This must be done by a technician who is
certified by your utility company. Also have the utility worker remove the old meter from
the base. It is against the law for a homeowner to break the seal on the meter.

Label all incoming circuit wires before disconnecting them. Labels should be written
clearly on tape that is attached to the cables outside of the existing service panel.

Disconnect incoming circuit wires from breakers, grounding bar, and neutral bus bar.
Also disconnect cable clamps at the knockouts on the panel box. Retract all circuit wires
from the service panel and coil up neatly, with the labels clearly visible.

Unscrew the lugs securing the service entry cables at the top of the panel. For 240-volt
service, you will find two heavy-gauge SE cables, probably with black sheathing. Each
cable carries 120 volts of electricity. A neutral service cable, usually of lighter gauge than
the SE cables, will be attached to the neutral bus bar. This cable returns current to the
source.

Remove the old service panel box. Boxes are rated for a range of power service; and if you
are upgrading, the components in the old box will be undersized for the new service
levels. The new box will have a greater number of circuit slots as well.

Replace the old panel backer board with a larger board in the installation area (see
sidebar, page 40). A piece of 3/4 plywood is typical. Make sure the board is well secured at
wall framing members.

Attach the new service panel box to the backer board, making sure that at least two
screws are driven through the backer and into wall studs. Drill clearance holes in the back
of the box at stud locations if necessary. Use roundhead screws that do not have tapered
shanks so the screwhead seats flat against the panel.

Attach properly sized cable clamps to the box at the knockout holes. Do not crowd
multiple lines into a knockout hole, and plan carefully to avoid removing knockouts that
you do not need to remove (if you do make a mistake, you can fill the knockout hole with a
plug).

Splicing in the Box


Some wiring codes allow you to make splices inside the service panel box if the circuit

wire is too short. Use the correct wire cap and wind electrical tape over the conductors
where they enter the cap. If your municipality does not allow splices in the panel box,
youll have to rectify a short cable by splicing it in a junction box before it reaches the
panel, and then replacing the cable with a longer section for the end of the run. Make
sure each circuit line has at least 12 of slack.

Attach the white neutral from each circuit cable to the neutral bus bar. Most panels
have a preinstalled neutral bus bar, but in some cases you may need to purchase the bar
separately and attach it to the panel back. The panel should also have a separate
grounding bar that you may need to purchase separately. Attach the grounds as well. Do
not attach more than one neutral wire to the same lug.

Attach the hot lead wire to the terminal on the circuit breaker and then snap the breaker
into an empty slot. When loading slots, start at the top of the panel and work your way
downward. It is important that you balance the circuits as you go to equalize the
amperage. For example, do not install all the 15-amp circuits on one side and all the 20amp circuits on the other. Also, if you have multiple larger-capacity circuits, such as a 50amp dryer and a 50-amp range, do not install them on the same side of the panel in case
they will be drawing electricity at the same time.

Create an accurate circuit index and affix it to the inside of the service panel door. List all
loads that are on the circuit as well as the amperage. Once you have restored power to the
new service panel (see step 18), test out each circuit to make sure you dont have any
surprises. With the main breakers on, shut off all individual circuit breakers and then flip
each one on by itself. Walk through your house and test every switch and receptacle to
confirm the loads on that circuit.

Install grounding conductors (see pages 46 to 51). Local codes are very specific about
how the grounding needs to be accomplished. For example, some require multiple rods
driven at least 6 ft. apart. Discuss your grounding requirements thoroughly with your
inspector or an electrician before making your plan.

Replace the old meter base (have the utility company remove the meter when they shut
off power to the house, step 1). Remove the old meter base, also called a socket, and install
a new base thats rated for the amperage of your new power service. Here, a 200-amp
bypass meter base is being installed.

Update the conduit that runs from your house to the bottom of the meter base. This
should be 2 rigid conduit in good repair. Attach the conduit to the base and wall with the
correct fittings. Rigid metal conduit is a good option, but Schedule 80 PVC is probably the
best choice for housing the service entry cables.

Install new service entry wires. Each wire carries 120 volts of current from the meter to
the service wire lugs at the top of your service panel. Code is very specific about how
these connections are made. In most cases, youll need to tighten the terminal nuts with a
specific amount of torque that requires a torque wrench to measure. Also attach the
sheathed neutral wire to the neutral/grounding lug.

Attach the SE wires to the lugs connected to the main breakers at the top of your service
entry panel. Do not remove too much insulation on the wiresleaving the wires exposed
is a safety hazard. The neutral service entry wire is attached either directly to the neutral
bus bar or to a metal bridge that is connected to the neutral bonding bus bar. Install the
green grounding screw provided with the panel.

Install service entry wires from the meter to the weatherhead, where the connections to
the power source are made. Only an agent for your public utility company may make the
hookup at the weatherhead.

Tall Mast, Short Roof


The service drop must occur at least 10 ft. above ground level, and as much as 14 ft. in
some cases. Occasionally, this means that you must run the conduit for the service mast
up through the eave of your roof and seal the roof penetration with a boot.

Have the panel and all connections inspected and approved by your local building
department, and then contact the public utility company to make the connections at the
power drop. Once the connections are made, turn the main breakers on and test all
circuits.

Grounding & Bonding an Upgraded System

All home electrical supply systems must be bonded and grounded in accordance with
code standards. This entails two tasks: the metal water and gas pipes must be connected
electrically to create a contiguous wire path leading to a ground; and the main electrical
panel must be grounded to a grounding rod or rods driven into the earth near the
foundation of your house. Although the piping system often is bonded to the ground
through your main electrical service panel, the panel grounding and the piping bonding
are unrelated when it comes to function. The grounding wire that runs from your
electrical panel to grounding rods in the earth is an important safeguard in your electrical
system. The wires that bond and ground your metal piping are preventative, and they
only become important in the relatively unlikely event that an electrical conductor
contacts one of the bare pipes, energizing it. In that case, correct grounding of the piping
system will ensure that the current does not remain or build up in the system, where it
could electrocute anyone who touches a part of the system, such as a faucet handle.
Bonding is done relatively efficiently at the water heater, as the gas piping and water
piping generally there.

Tools & Materials


Hammer
Slotted screwdriver
Drill
1/2 drill bit
Copperwire: #4 stranded for 100 amps and above; #6 solid for less than 100 amps
Cable staples
3 pipe ground clamps
Eye and ear protection
Work gloves
Grounding rods (8-ft.-long copper-coated steel)
5-lb. maul
Caulk

A pair of 8-ft.-long metal grounding rods are driven into the earth next to your house to
provide a path to ground for your home wiring system.

How to Bond Metallic Piping

Determine the amperage rating of your electrical service by looking at your main breakers.
The system amperage (usually 100 or 200 amps) determines the required gauge of the
bonding wire you need. For service up to 125 amps use #8 copper strand wire. For more
than 125 amps use #6 copper strand.

Run the grounding wire from a bonding point near your water heater (a convenient spot
if you have a gas-fueled heater) to an exit point where the wire can be bonded to the
grounding wire that leads to the exterior grounding rods. This is frequently done at the
service panel. Run this wire as you would any other cable, leaving approximately 6 to 8 ft.
of wire at the water heater. If you are running this wire through the ceiling joists, drill a
1/2 hole as close to the center as possible to not weaken the joist. Staple the wire every 4
ft. if running it parallel to the joists.

Install pipe ground clamps on each pipe (hot water supply, cold water supply, gas),
roughly a foot above the water heater. Do not install clamps near a union or elbow because
the tightening of the clamps could break or weaken soldered joints. Also make sure the
pipes are free and clear of any paint, rust, or any other contaminant that may inhibit a
good clean connection. Do not overtighten the clamps.

Route the ground wire through each clamp wire hole and then tighten the clamps onto
the wire. Do not cut or splice the wire: The same wire should run through all clamps.

At the panel, turn off the main breaker. Open the cover by removing the screws and set
the cover aside. Route the ground wire through a small 3/8 hole provided towards the
rear of the panel on the top or bottom. You will generally have to knock the plug out of
this hole by placing a screwdriver on it from the outside and tapping with a hammer.
Make sure the ground wire will not come into contact with the copper bus bars in the
middle of the panel or any of the load terminals on the breakers.

Locate an open hole on your ground and neutral bus and insert the ground wire. Newer
service panels will have a separate neutral and grounding bus to conform to current codes
in this case, connect to the grounding bus. These holes are large enough to accommodate
up to a #4 awg wire, but it may be difficult at times. Secure the set screw at the lug.
Replace the panel cover and turn the main breaker back on.

Tips for Grounding the Panel

The neutral and grounding wires should not be connected to the same bus in most
subpanels. The grounding bus should be bonded to the subpanel cabinet. The neutral bus
should not be bonded to the subpanel cabinet.

Metallic conduit must be physically and electrically connected to panel cabinets. A


bonding bushing may be required in some cases, where all of a knockout is not removed.

Ground Rod Installation


The ground rod is an essential part of the grounding system. Its primary function is to
create a path to ground for unrestricted electrical currents, such as lightning, line surges,
and unintentional contact with high voltage lines. As a lot of homes are now being
plumbed with nonmetallic pipes (which, unlike metallic pipes, cannot be used for
equipment grounding), the need to properly install a grounding electrode system is more
important than ever. In this day and age, only brand-new houses will have no grounding
electrode system. However, it is not uncommon for electrodes to deteriorate in the ground
and require replacement. Also, if you upgrade your electrical services you likely will need
to upgrade your grounding wire and rods to meet code.
Note: Different municipalities have different requirements for grounding, so be sure to check with
the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) first before attempting to do this yourself.
Call before you dig! Make sure the area where you will be installing the ground rods is
free and clear from any underground utilities.

Exercise Your Breakers


Your breakers (including the main) should be exercised once a year to ensure proper
mechanical function. Simply turn them off and then back on. A convenient time to
perform the exercise is at daylight savings time, when youll need to reset all of your
clocks anyway.

How to Install a Grounding Electrode System

First, determine what size ground rods youll need: either 1/2 dia. by 8-ft. long for 100
amp service, or 5/8 dia. by 8-ft. long for services that exceed 100 amps. Grounding rods
have a driving point on one end and a striking face on the other end. They are made of
hardened, solid steel coated in copper for increased conductivity.

Drill a hole for the grounding conductor in the rim joist of your house, as close as
practical to the main service panel. Drill all the way through to the outside of the house
above the ground level at least 6 using an extended drill bit.

About a foot from the foundation of the house, pound one ground rod into the earth
with a five-pound maul. If you encounter a rock or other obstruction, you can pound the
ground rod at an angle as long as it does not exceed 45. Drive until only 3 or 4 of the rod
is above ground. Measure at least 6 ft. from the first ground rod and pound in another
one.

Run grounding conductor from the ground bus in your main service panel through the
hole in the rim joist and to the exterior of the house, leaving enough wire to connect the
two ground rods together. Make sure wire is sized correctlysee page 49.

Using a brass connector commonly referred to as an acorn, connect the wire to the first
ground rod, pulling the wire taut so no slack exists. Continue pulling the wire to reach the
second grounding rod, creating a continuous connection.

Connect the second ground rod with another acorn to the uncut grounding wire
previously pulled through the first acorn. Trim the excess wire.

Dig out a few inches around each rod to create clearance for the five-pound maul.
Creating a shallow trench beneath the grounding wire between the rods is also a good
idea. Drive each rod with the maul until the top of the rod is a few inches below grade.

Inject caulk into the hole in the rim joist on both the interior and exterior side.

Tips for Grounding

A listed metal strap may be used to ground indoor communication wires to bonded
conduit such as telephone and cable TV.

A piece of reinforcing bar encased in a concrete footing is a common grounding electrode


in new construction. Called a ufer, the electrode must be No. 4 or larger rebar and at least
20 ft. long. (Shown prior to pouring concrete.)

Adding Circuits

An electrical circuit is a continuous loop. Household circuits carry power from the main
service panel, throughout the house, and back to the main service panel. Several switches,
receptacles, light fixtures, or appliances may be connected to a single circuit.
Current enters a circuit loop on hot wires and returns along neutral wires. These wires
are color coded for easy identification. Hot wires are black or red, and neutral wires are
white or light gray. For safety, most circuits include a bare copper or green insulated
grounding wire. The grounding wire conducts current in the event of a ground fault, and
helps reduce the chance of severe electrical shock. The service panel also has a grounding
wire connected to a metal water pipe and metal grounding rod buried underground.
If a circuit carries too much power, it can overload. A fuse or a circuit breaker protects
each circuit in case of overloads.
Current returns to the service panel along a neutral circuit wire. Current then becomes
part of a main circuit and leaves the house on a large neutral service wire that returns it to
the utility pole transformer.

Wiring a Room Addition

The photo below shows the circuits you would likely want to install in a large room
addition. This example shows the framing and wiring of an unfinished attic converted to
an office or entertainment room with a bathroom. This room includes a subpanel and five
new circuits plus telephone and cable-TV lines.
A wiring project of this sort is a potentially complicated undertaking that can be made
simpler by breaking the project into convenient steps, and finishing one step before
moving on to the next. Turn to pages 56 to 57 to see this project represented as a wiring
diagram.
Individual Circuits
#1: Bathroom circuit. This 20-amp dedicated circuit supplies power to bathroom lights
and fans, as well as receptacles that must be GFCI-protected at the box or at the
receptacle. As with small appliance circuits in the kitchen, you may not tap into this
circuit to feed any additional loads.
#2: Computer circuit. A15-amp dedicated circuit with isolated ground is
recommended, but an individual branch circuit is all that is required by most codes.
Circuit breaker subpanel receives power through a 10-gauge, three-wire feeder cable
connected to a 30-amp, 240-volt circuit breaker at the main circuit breaker panel. Larger
room additions may require a 60-amp or a 100-amp feeder circuit breaker.

#3: Air-conditioner circuit. A 20-amp, 240-volt dedicated circuit. In cooler climates,


or in a smaller room, you may need an air conditioner and circuit rated for only 120 volts.

#4: Basic lighting/receptacle circuit. This 15-amp, 120-volt circuit supplies power to
most of the fixtures in the bedroom and study areas.
#5: Heater circuit. This 20-amp, 240-volt circuit supplies power to the bathroom
blower-heater and to the baseboard heaters. Depending on the size of your room and the
wattage rating of the baseboard heaters, you may need a 30-amp, 240-volt heating circuit.
Telephone outlet is wired with 22-gauge four-wire phone cable. If your home phone
system has two or more separate lines, you may need to run a cable with eight wires,
commonly called four-pair cable.
Cable television jack is wired with coaxial cable running from an existing television
junction in the utility area.

Diagram View
The diagram below shows the layout of the five circuits and the locations of their
receptacles, switches, fixtures, and devices as shown in the photo on the previous pages.
The circuits and receptacles are based on the needs of a 400-sq.-ft. space. An inspector will
want to see a diagram like this one before issuing a permit. After youve received approval
for your addition, the wiring diagram will serve as your guide as you complete your
project.
Circuit #1: A 20-amp, 120-volt circuit serving the bathroom and closet area. Includes:
12/2 NM cable, double-gang box, timer switch, single-pole switch, 4 4 box with singlegang adapter plate, two plastic light fixture boxes, vanity light fixture, closet light fixture,
15-amp single-pole circuit breaker.
Circuit #2: A 15-amp, 120-volt computer circuit. Includes: 14/2 NM cable, single-gang
box, 15-amp receptacle, 15-amp single-pole circuit breaker.
Circuit #3: A 20-amp, 240-volt air-conditioner circuit. Includes: 12/2 NM cable; singlegang box; 20-amp, 240-volt receptacle (singleplex style); 20-amp double-pole circuit.

Circuit #4: A 15-amp, 120-volt basic lighting/receptacle circuit serving most of the
fixtures in the bedroom and study areas. Includes: 14/2 and 14/3 NM cable, two doublegang boxes, fan speed-control switch, dimmer switch, single-pole switch, two three-way
switches, two plastic light fixture boxes, light fixture for stairway, smoke detector, metal

light fixture box with brace bar, ceiling fan with light fixture, 10 single-gang boxes, 4 4
box with single-gang adapter plate, 10 duplex receptacles (15-amp), 15-amp single-pole
circuit breaker.
Circuit #5: A 20-amp, 240-volt circuit that supplies power to three baseboard heaters
controlled by a wall thermostat, and to a bathroom blower-heater controlled by a built-in
thermostat. Includes: 12/2 NM cable, 750-watt blower-heater, single-gang box, line-voltage
thermostat, three baseboard heaters, 20-amp double-pole circuit breaker.
Cable television jack: Coaxial cable with F-connectors, signal splitter, cable
television outlet with mounting brackets.
Circuit #6: A 20-amp, 120-volt, GFCI-protected bathroom receptacle circuit for the
bathroom. Includes GFCI breaker, 12/2 NM cable, boxes and 20-amp receptacles.

Circuit Map Details


Make the final connections for receptacles, switches, and fixtures only after the rough-in
inspection is done, and all walls and ceilings are finished. The circuit maps are especially
useful if your wiring configurations differ from those shown on the following pages. The
last step is to hook up the new circuits at the breaker panel.
After all connections are done, your work is ready for the final inspection. If you have
worked carefully, the final inspection will take only a few minutes. The inspector may
open one or two electrical boxes to check wire connections, and will check the circuit
breaker hookups to make sure they are correct.

Tools & Materials


Combination tool
Screwdrivers
Needlenose pliers
Nut driver
Pigtail wires
Wire connectors
Green & black tape
CIRCUIT #1 A 15-amp, 120-volt circuit serving the bathroom & closet.
Timer & single-pole switch
Vent fan
Two light fixtures
GFCI receptacle
Single-pole switch
15-amp single-pole circuit breaker

How to Connect the Timer & Single-pole Switch

Attach a black pigtail wire (A) to one of the screw terminals on the switch. Use a wire
connector to connect this pigtail to the black feed wire (B), to one of the black wire leads
on the timer (C), and to the black wire carrying power to the bathroom receptacle (D).
Connect the black wire leading to the vanity light fixture (E) to the remaining screw
terminal on the switch. Connect the black wire running to the vent fan (F) to the
remaining wire lead on the timer. Use wire connectors to join the white wires and the
grounding wires. Tuck all wires into the box, then attach the switches, coverplate, and
timer dial.

How to Connect a Vent Fan

In the wire connection box (top) connect black circuit wire to black wire lead on fan,
using a wire connector. Connect white circuit wire to white wire lead. Connect
grounding wire to the green grounding screw.
Insert the fan motor unit (bottom), and attach mounting screws. Connect the fan motor
plug to the built-in receptacle on the wire connection box. Attach the fan grill to the
frame, using the mounting clips included with the fan kit.

How to Connect Light Fixtures

Attach a mounting strap with threaded nipple to the box, if required by the light fixture
manufacturer. Connect the black circuit wire to the black wire lead on the light fixture,
and connect the white circuit wire to the white wire lead. Connect the circuit grounding
wire to the grounding screw on the mounting strap. Carefully tuck all wires into the
electrical box, then position the fixture over the nipple, and attach it with the mounting
nut.

How to Connect the Bathroom GFCI Receptacle

Attach a black pigtail wire to brass screw terminal marked line. Join all black wires with a
wire connector. Attach a white pigtail wire to the silver screw terminal marked line, then
join all white wires with a wire connector. Attach a grounding pigtail to the green
grounding screw, then join all grounding wires. Tuck all wires into the box, then attach
the receptacle and the coverplate.

How to Connect the Single-pole Switch

Attach the black circuit wires to the brass screw terminals on the switch. Use wire
connectors to join the white neutral wires together and the bare copper grounding wires
together. Tuck all wires into the box, then attach the switch and the coverplate.
CIRCUIT #4 A 15-amp, 120-volt basic lighting/receptacle circuit serving the office
and bedroom areas.
Single-pole switch for split receptacle, three-way switch for stairway light fixture
Speed-control and dimmer switches for ceiling fan
Switched duplex receptacle
15-amp, 120-volt receptacles
Ceiling fan with light fixture
Smoke detector

Stairway light fixture


15-amp single-pole circuit breaker

How to Connect Switches for Receptacle & Stairway Light

Attach a black pigtail wire (A) to one of the screws on the single-pole switch and
another black pigtail (B) to common screw on three-way switch. Use a wire connector to
connect pigtail wires to black feed wire (C), to black wire running to unswitched
receptacles (D), and to the black wire running to fan switches (E). Connect remaining
wires running to light fixture (F, G) to traveler screws on three-way switch. Connect red
wire running to switched receptacle (H) to remaining screw on single-pole switch. Use
wire connectors to join white wires and grounding wires. Tuck all wires into box, then
attach switches and coverplate.

How to Connect the Ceiling Fan Switches

Connect the black feed wire (A) to one of the black wire leads on each switch, using a
wire connector. Connect the red circuit wire (B) running to the fan light fixture to the
remaining wire lead on the dimmer switch. Connect the black circuit wire (C) running to
the fan motor to the remaining wire lead on the speed-control switch. Use wire
connectors to join the white wires and the grounding wires. Tuck all wires into the box,
then attach the switches, coverplate, and switch dials.

How to Connect a Switched Receptacle

Break the connecting tab between the brass screw terminals on the receptacle, using
needlenose pliers. Attach the red wire to the bottom brass screw. Connect a black pigtail
wire to the other brass screw, then connect all black wires with a wire connector. Connect
white wires to silver screws. Attach a grounding pigtail to the green grounding screw,
then join all the grounding wires, using a wire connector. Tuck the wires into the box,
then attach the receptacle and coverplate.

How to Connect Receptacles

Connect the black circuit wires to the brass screw terminals on the receptacle, and the
white wires to the silver terminals. Attach a grounding pigtail to the green grounding
screw on the receptacle, then join all grounding wires with a wire connector. Tuck the
wires into the box, then attach the receptacle and coverplate.

How to Connect a Ceiling Fan/Light Fixture

Place the ceiling fan mounting plate over the stove bolts extending through the
electrical box. Pull the circuit wires through the hole in the center of the mounting plate.
Attach the mounting nuts, and tighten them with a nut driver.

Hang fan motor from mounting hook. Connect black circuit wire to black wire lead from
fan, using a wire connector. Connect red circuit wire from dimmer to blue wire lead from
light fixture, white circuit wire to white lead, and grounding wires to green lead.
Complete assembly of fan and light fixture, following manufacturers directions.
CIRCUIT #5 A 20-amp, 240-volt circuit serving the bathroom blower-heater and
three baseboard heaters controlled by a wall thermostat.
240-volt blower-heater
240-volt thermostat
240-volt baseboard heaters

20-amp double-pole circuit breaker (see pages 38 to 39 for instructions on hooking up the
circuit at the circuit breaker panel)

How to Connect a 240-volt Blower-Heater

Blower-heaters: In the heaters wire connection box, connect one of the wire leads to the
white circuit wires, and the other wire lead to the black circuit wires, using same method
as for baseboard heaters (page, opposite). Insert the motor unit, and attach the motor plug
to the built-in receptacle. Attach the coverplate and thermostat knob. Note: Some types of
blower-heaters can be wired for either 120 volts or 240 volts. If you have this type, make sure the
internal plug connections are configured for 240 volts.

How to Connect a 240-volt Thermostat

Connect the red wire leads on the thermostat to the circuit wires entering the box from
the power source, using wire connectors. Connect black wire leads to circuit wires leading
to the baseboard heaters. Tag the white wires with black tape to indicate they are hot.
Attach a grounding pigtail to the grounding screw on the thermostat, then connect all
grounding wires. Tuck the wires into the box, then attach the thermostat and coverplate.
Follow manufacturers directions: the color coding for thermostats may vary.

How to Connect 240-volt Baseboard Heaters

At the cable location, cut a small hole in the wallboard, 3 to 4 above the floor, using a
wallboard saw. Pull the cables through the hole, using a piece of stiff wire with a hook on
the end. Middle-of-run heaters will have 2 cables, while end-of-run heaters have only 1
cable.

Remove the cover on the wire connection box. Open a knockout for each cable that will
enter the box, then feed the cables through the cable clamps and into the wire connection
box. Attach the clamps to the wire connection box and tighten the clamp screws until the
cables are gripped firmly.

Anchor heater against wall, about 1 off floor, by driving flat-head screws through back
of housing and into studs. Strip away cable sheathing so at least 1/4 of sheathing extends
into the heater. Strip 3/4 of insulation from each wire, using a combination tool.

Use wire connectors to connect the white circuit wires to one of the wire leads on the
heater. Tag white wires with black tape to indicate they are hot. Connect the black circuit
wires to the other wire lead. Connect a grounding pigtail to the green grounding screw in
the box, then join all grounding wires with a wire connector. Reattach cover.

Wiring a Kitchen

The photo at left shows the circuits you would probably want to install in a total kitchen
remodel. Kitchens require a wide range of electrical services, from simple 15-amp lighting
circuits to 120/240, 50-amp appliance circuits. This kitchen example has seven circuits,
including separate dedicated circuits for a dishwasher and food disposer. Some codes
allow the disposer and dishwasher to share a single circuit.
All rough carpentry and plumbing should be in place before beginning any electrical
work. As always, divide a project of this scale into manageable steps, and finish one step
before moving on. Turn to pages 66 to 67 to see this project represented as a wiring
diagram.
Individual Circuits
#1 & #2: Small-appliance circuits. Two 20-amp, 120-volt circuits supply power to
countertop and eating areas for small appliances. All general-use receptacles must be on
these circuits. One 12/3 cable fed by a 20-amp double-pole breaker wires both circuits.
These circuits share one electrical box with the disposer circuit (#5), and another with the
basic lighting circuit (#7). Other circuits may also service the area, as with a dedicated
refrigerator circuit.

#3: Range circuit. A 40 or 50-amp, 120/240-volt dedicated circuit supplies power to


the range/ oven appliance. It is wired with 6/3 copper cable.
#4: Microwave circuit. It is wired with 12/2 cable. Microwaves that use less than 300
watts can be installed on a 15-amp circuit or plugged into the small-appliance circuits.
#5: Food disposer/dishwasher circuit. A dedicated 15-amp, 120-volt circuit supplies
power to the disposer. It is wired with 14/2 cable. Some local codes may allow disposer to
be on the same circuit as the dishwasher if it is a 20-amp circuit.
#6: Basic lighting circuit. A 15-amp, 120-volt circuit powers the ceiling fixture,
recessed fixtures, and undercabinet task lights. 14/2 and 14/3 cables connect the fixtures
and switches in the circuit. Each task light has a self-contained switch.

Diagram View

The diagram at left shows the layout of the seven circuits and the locations of their
receptacles, switches, fixtures, and devices as shown in the photo on the previous pages.
The circuits and receptacles are based on the needs of a 175-sq.-ft. space kitchen. An
inspector will want to see a diagram like this one before issuing a permit. After youve
received approval for your addition, the wiring diagram will serve as your guide as you
complete your project.
Circuits #1 & #2: Two 20-amp, 120-volt small-appliance circuits wired with one cable.
All general-use receptacles must be on these circuits, and they must be GFCI units.
Includes: two GFCI receptacles rated for 20 amps, five electrical boxes that are 4 4, and
12/3 cable.
Circuit #3: A 50-amp, 120/240-volt dedicated circuit for the range. Includes: a 4 4
box; a 120/240-volt, 50-amp range receptacle; and 6/3 NM copper cable.

Circuit #4: A 20-amp, 120-volt dedicated circuit for the microwave. Includes: a 20amp duplex receptacle, a single-gang box, and 12/2 NM cable.
Circuit #5: A 15-amp, 120-volt dedicated circuit for the food disposer. Includes: a 15amp duplex receptacle, a single-pole switch (installed in a double-gang box with a GFCI
receptacle from the small-appliance circuits), one single-gang box, and 14/2 cable.
Circuit #6: A 15-amp, 120-volt basic lighting circuit serving all of the lighting needs in
the kitchen. Includes: two single-pole switches, two three-way switches, single-gang box,
4 4 box, triple-gang box (shared with one of the GFCI receptacles from the smallappliance circuits), plastic light fixture box with brace, ceiling light fixture, four
fluorescent undercabinet light fixtures, six recessed light fixtures, 14/2 and 14/3 cables.

Making Connections
Make the final connections for switches, receptacles, and fixtures after the rough-in
inspection. First make final connections on recessed fixtures (it is easier to do this before
wallboard is installed). Then finish the work on walls and ceiling, install the cabinets, and
make the rest of the final connections. Use the photos on the following pages and the
circuit maps as a guide for making the final connections. The last step is to connect the
circuits at the breaker panel. After all connections are made, your work is ready for the
final inspection.

Tools & Materials


Pigtail wires
Wire connectors
Black electrical tape
CIRCUITS #1 & #2 Two 20-amp, 120-volt small-appliance circuits.
2 GFCI receptacles
20-amp double-pole circuit breaker
Note: In this project, two of the GFCI receptacles are installed in boxes that also contain switches
from other circuits (page opposite).

How to Connect Small-appliance Receptacles (two alternating 20amp circuits in one 12/3 cable)

At alternate receptacles in the cable run (first, third, etc.), attach a black pigtail to a brass
screw terminal marked line on the receptacle and to black wire from both cables. Connect
a white pigtail to a silver screw (line) and to both white wires. Connect a grounding pigtail
to the grounding screw and to both grounding wires. Connect both red wires together.
Tuck wires into box, then attach the receptacle and coverplate.

At remaining receptacles in the run, attach a red pigtail to a brass screw terminal (line)
and to red wires from the cables. Attach a white pigtail to a silver screw terminal (line)
and to both white wires. Connect a grounding pigtail to the grounding screw and to both
grounding wires. Connect both black wires together. Tuck wires into box, attach
receptacle and coverplate.

How to Install a GFCI & a Disposer Switch

Connect black pigtail (A) to GFCI brass terminal marked line, and to black wires from
three-wire cables. Attach white pigtail (B) to silver terminal marked line, and to white
wires from three-wire cables. Attach grounding pigtail (C) to GFCI grounding screw and
to grounding wires from three-wire cables. Connect both red wires together. Connect
black wire from two-wire cable (D) to one switch terminal. Attach white wire to other
terminal, and tag it black indicating it is hot. Attach grounding wire to switch grounding
screw. Tuck wires into box; attach switch, receptacle, and coverplate.

How to Install a GFCI & Two Switches for Recessed Lights

Connect red pigtail (A) to GFCI brass terminal labeled line, and to red wires from threewire cables. Connect white pigtail (B) to silver line terminal and to white wires from
three-wire cables. Attach grounding pigtail (C) to grounding screw and to grounding
wires from three-wire cables. Connect black wires from three-wire cables (D) together.
Attach a black pigtail to one screw on each switch and to black wire from two-wire feed
cable (E). Connect black wire (F) from the two-wire cable leading to recessed lights to
remaining screw on the switch for the recessed lights. Connect black wire (G) from twowire cable leading to sink light to remaining screw on sink light switch. Connect white
wires from all two-wire cables together. Connect pigtails to switch grounding screws and
to all grounding wires from two-wire cables. Tuck wires into box; attach switches,
receptacle, and coverplate.
CIRCUIT #3 A 50-amp, 120/240-volt circuit serving the range.
50-amp receptacle for range
50-amp double-pole circuit breaker

CIRCUIT #4 A 20-amp, 120-volt circuit for the microwave.


20-amp duplex receptacle
20-amp single-pole circuit breaker

How to Install 120/240 Range Receptacle

Attach the white wire to the neutral terminal and the black and red wires to the
remaining terminals. Attach the bare copper grounding wire to the grounding screw on
the receptacle. Attach receptacle and coverplate.

How to Connect Microwave

Connect black wire from the cable to a brass screw terminal on the receptacle. Attach the
white wire to a silver screw terminal and the grounding wire to the receptacles
grounding screw. Tuck wires into box, then attach the receptacle and the coverplate.
CIRCUIT #5 A 15-amp, 120-volt circuit for the food disposer.
15-amp duplex receptacle
Single-pole switch

15-amp single-pole circuit breaker

How to Connect Disposer Receptacle

Connect black wires together. Connect white wire from feed cable (A) to silver screw on
receptacle. Connect white wire from cable going to the switch to a brass screw terminal on
the receptacle, and tag the wire with black indicating it is hot. Attach a grounding pigtail
to grounding screw and to both cable grounding wires. Tuck wires into box, then attach
receptacle and coverplate.

Circuit #5 Option:
A 20-amp, 120-volt circuit for disposer and dishwasher.
20-amp duplex receptacles

20-amp single-pole circuit breaker

Connect the black wire to a brass screw terminal. Attach the white wire to a silver
screw terminal. Connect the grounding wire to the grounding screw. Tuck wires into
box, then attach receptacle and coverplate. Note: Appliances with high amperage
ratings may not be suitable for this configuration. Check with your local electrical
inspector.
CIRCUIT #6 A 15-amp basic lighting circuit serving the kitchen.
2 three-way switches with grounding screws
2 single-pole switches with grounding screws
Ceiling light fixture
6 recessed light fixtures
4 fluorescent under-cabinet fixtures
15-amp single-pole circuit breaker

How to Connect Surface-mounted Ceiling Fixture

Connect white fixture lead to white wire (A) from first three-way switch. Connect black
fixture lead to black wire (B) from second three-way switch. Connect black wire (C) from
first switch to white wire (D) from second switch, and tag this white wire with black.
Connect red wires from both switches together. Connect all grounding wires together.
Mount fixture following manufacturers instructions.

How to Connect First Three-way Switch

Connect a black pigtail to the common screw on the switch (A) and to the black wires
from the two-wire cable. Connect black and red wires from the three-wire cable to
traveler terminals (B) on the switch. Connect white wires from all cables entering box
together. Attach a grounding pigtail to switch grounding screw and to all grounding wires
in box. Tuck wires into box, then attach switch and coverplate.

How to Connect Second Three-way Switch

Connect black wire from the cable to the common screw terminal (A). Connect red wire
to one traveler screw terminal. Attach the white wire to the other traveler screw terminal
and tag it with black indicating it is hot. Attach the grounding wire to the grounding
screw on the switch. Tuck wires in box, then attach switch and coverplate.

Installing Undercabinet Lights

Drill 5/8 holes through wall and cabinet at locations that line up with knockouts on
the fixture, and retrieve cable ends.

Remove access cover on fixture. Open one knockout for each cable that enters fixture
box, and install cable clamps.

Strip 8 of sheathing from each cable end. Insert each end through a cable clamp,
leaving 1/4 of sheathing in fixture box.

Screw fixture box to cabinet. Attach black, white, and green pigtails of THHN/THWN
wire to wires from one cable entering box. Pigtails must be long enough to reach the
cable at other end of box.

Connect black pigtail and circuit wire to black lead from fixture. Connect white
pigtail and circuit wire to white lead from fixture. Attach green pigtail and copper
circuit wire to green grounding wire attached to the fixture box.

Tuck wires into box, and route THHN/THWN pigtails along one side of the ballast.
Replace access cover and fixture lens.

Installing a Solar Light Circuit

A self-contained electrical circuit with dedicated loads, usually 12-volt light fixtures, is
one of the most useful solar amenities you can install. A standalone system is not tied into
your power grid, which greatly reduces the danger of installing the components yourself.
Plus, the fact that your light fixtures are independent of the main power source means
that even during a power outage you will have functioning emergency and security lights.
Installing a single solar-powered circuit is relatively simple, but dont take the dangers
for granted. Your work will require permits and inspections in most jurisdictions, and you
cant expect to pass if the work is not done to the exact specifications required.
Solar panels that convert the suns energy into electricity are called photovoltaic (PV)
panels, and they produce direct current (DC) power. PV solar panel systems can be small
and designed to accomplish a specific task, or they can be large enough to provide power
or supplementary power to an entire house. Before you make the leap into a large system,
its a good idea to familiarize yourself with the mechanics of solar power. The small system
demonstrated in this project is relatively simple and is a great first step into the world of
solar. The fact that the collector, battery, and lights are a standalone system makes this a
very easy project to accomplish. By contrast, installing panels that provide direct
supplementary power through your main electrical service panel is a difficult wiring job
that should be done by professional electricians only.

This 60-watt solar panel is mounted on a garage roof and powers a self-contained home
security lighting system. Not only does this save energy costs, it keeps the security lights
working even during power outages.

Schematic Diagram for an Off-the-Grid Solar Lighting System

Tools & Materials


Tape measure
Drill/driver with bits
Caulk gun
Crimping tool
Wiring tools
Metal-cutting saw
Photovoltaic panel (50 to 80 watts)
Charge controller
Catastrophe fuse
Battery sized for 3 day autonomy
Battery case
Battery cables
12 volt LED lights including motion-sensor light
Additional 12-volt light fixtures as desired
20 ft. Unistrut 1-7/8 thick U-channel (See Resources, page 125)
(4) 45 Unistrut connectors
(2) 90 Unistrut angle brackets

(4) Unistrut hold down clamps


(12) 3/8 spring nuts
(12) 3/8-dia. 1-long hex-head bolts with washers
DC-rated disconnect or double throw snap switch
6 length of 1/2-dia. liquid-tight flexible metallic conduit
(2) 1/2 liquid tight connectors
(2) Lay-in grounding lugs
(2) Insulated terminal bars to accept one 2-gauge wire and 4 12-gauge wires
(2) Cord cap connectors for 1/2-dia. cable
1/2 ground rod and clamp
Copper wire (6, 12-gauge)
Green ground screws
1/2 Flexible metallic conduit or Greenfield
1/2 Greenfield connectors
(4) 11/16 junction boxes with covers
(4) square boxes with covers
PVC 6 6 junction box with cover
14/2 UF wire
1/4 20 nuts and bolts with lock washers
Roof flashing boot
Roof cement
Silicon caulk
Eye protection

Mounting PV Panels

The mounting stand for the PV panel is constructed from metal U-channel (a product
called Unistrut is seen here. See Resources page 125) and pre-bent fasteners. Position the
solar panel where it will receive the greatest amount of sunlight for the longest period of
time each daytypically the south-facing side of a roof or wall. For a circuit with a battery
reserve that powers two to four 12-volt lights, a collection panel rated between 40 and 80
watts of output should suffice. These panels can range from $200 to $600 in price,
depending on the output and the overall quality.

The stand components are held together with bolts and spring-loaded fasteners. The 45
and 90 connectors are manufactured specifically for use with this Unistrut system.

Connections for the feed wires that carry current from the collector are made inside an
electrical box mounted on the back of the collector panel.

An EPDM rubber boot seals off the opening where the PVC conduit carrying the feed
wires penetrates the roof.

How to Wire a DC Lighting Circuit

Mount a junction box inside the building where the conduit and wiring enter from the
power source. Secure the box to the conduit with appropriate connectors. Run two #14
awg wires through the conduit and connect them to the positive and negative terminals
on the panel.

Plan the system layout. Determine the placement of the battery and then decide where
you will position the charge controller and DC disconnect. The battery should be placed at
least 18 off the floor, in a well-ventilated area where it wont be agitated by everyday
activity. Mark locations directly on the wall.

Attach a junction box for enclosing the DC disconnect, which is a heavy-duty switch, to
a wall stud near the battery and charge controller location. Use a metal single-gang box
with mounting flanges.

Run flexible metal conduit from the entry point at the power source to the junction box
for the DC disconnect box. Use hangers rated for flexible conduit.

Attach a double gang metal junction box to the buildings frame beneath the DC
disconnect box to enclose the charge controller. Connect the boxes with a suitable conduit
fitting or with flexible conduit.

Attach the DC disconnect switch to the wire leads from the power source.

Install the charge controller inside the box.

Mount a PVC junction box for the battery controller about 2 ft. above the battery location
and install an insulated terminal bar within the box.

Build a support shelf for the battery. The shelf should be at least 12 to 18 above ground.
Set the battery on the shelf in a sturdy plastic case.

Set up grounding protection. Pound an 8-ft. long, 1/2-dia. ground rod into the ground
outside the building, about 1 ft. from the wall on the opposite side of the charge controller.
Leave about 2 of the rod sticking out of the ground. Attach a ground rod clamp to the
top of the rod. Drill a 5/16 hole through the wall (underneath a shake or siding piece) and
run the #6-gauge THWN wire to the ground rod. This ground will facilitate lightning
protection. See pages 46 to 51 for more information on grounding the system.

Wire the DC disconnect. Attach the two #14-gauge wires to the two terminals labeled
line on the top of the DC disconnect switch.

Wire the charge controller. Route two more #14-gauge wires from the bottom of the DC
disconnect terminals into the 4 11/16 junction box and connect to the Solar Panel In
terminals on the charge controller. The black wire should connect to the negative terminal
in the PVC box and the red to the positive lead on the charge controller. Finish wiring of
the charge controller according to the line diagram provided with the type of controller
purchased. Generally the load wires connect to the orange lead and the red wire gets tied
to the battery through a fuse.

Option: Attach a motion sensor. Some charge controllers come equipped with a motion
sensor to maximize the efficiency of your lighting systemthese are especially effective
when used with security lighting. The motion sensor is typically mounted to a bell box
outside and wired directly to the charge controller with an 18-gauge 3-conductor
insulated cable. A system like this can support up to three motion sensors. Follow the
manufacturers directions for installing and wiring the motion sensor.

Run wiring to the loads (exterior DC lighting fixtures in this case) from the charge
controller. DC light fixtures (12-volt) with LED bulbs can be purchased at marine and RV
stores if you cant find them in your home center or electrical supply store.

Install the battery. Here, a deep-cell 12-volt marine battery is used. First, cut and strip
each of the two battery cables at one end and install into the battery control junction box
through cord cap connectors. Terminate these wires on two separate, firmly mounted
insulated terminal blocks.

Install the catastrophe fuse onto the positive terminal using nuts and bolts provided
with the battery cables. Connect the battery cables to the battery while paying close
attention to the polarity (red to positive and black to negative). Make sure all connections
have been made and double check.

Cover all junction boxes, then remove the bag from the collector panel and turn the DC
disconnect switch on to complete the circuit. Test the lights and adjust the time to desired
setting.

Backup Power Supply

Installing a backup generator is an invaluable way to prepare your family for emergencies.
The simplest backup power system is a portable gas-powered generator and an extension
cord or two. A big benefit of this approach is that you can run a refrigerator and a few
worklights during a power outage with a tool that can also be transported to remote job
sites or on camping trips when its not doing emergency backup duty. This is also the least
expensive way to provide some backup power for your home. You can purchase a
generator at most home centers and be up and running in a matter of hours. If you take
this approach, it is critically important that you make certain any loads being run by your
generator are disconnected from the utility power source.
The next step up is to incorporate a manual transfer switch for your portable generator.
Transfer switches are permanently hardwired to your service panel. They are mounted on
either the interior or the exterior of your house between the generator and the service
panel. You provide a power feed from the generator into the switch. The switch is wired
to selected essential circuits in your house, allowing you to power lights, furnace blowers,
and other loads that cant easily be run with an extension cord. But perhaps the most
important job a transfer switch performs is to disconnect the utility power. If the inactive
utility power line is attached to the service panel, backfeed of power from your
generator to the utility line can occur when the generator kicks in. This condition could be
fatal to line workers who are trying to restore power. The potential for backfeed is the
main reason many municipalities insist that only a licensed electrician hook up a transfer
switch. Using a transfer switch not installed by a professional may also void the warranty
of the switch and the generator.
Automatic transfer switches turn on the generator and switch off the utility supply
when they detect a significant drop in line voltage. They may be installed with portable
generators, provided the generator is equipped with an electric starter.
Large standby generators that resemble central air conditioners are the top of the line in
backup power supply systems. Often fueled by home natural gas lines or propane tanks
that offer a bottomless fuel source, standby generators are made in sizes with as much as
20 to 40 kilowatts of outputenough to supply all of the power needs of a 5,000-sq.-ft.
home.

Generators have a range of uses. Large hard-wired models can provide instant
emergency power for a whole house. Smaller models (below) are convenient for occasional
short-term backup as well as job sites or camping trips.

Choosing a Backup Generator

A 2,000- to 5,000-watt gas-powered generator and a few extension cords can power lamps
and an appliance or two during shorter-term power outages. Appliances must not be
connected to household wiring and the generator simultaneously. Never plug a generator
into an outlet. Never operate a generator indoors. Run extension cords through a garage
door.

A permanent transfer switch patches electricity from a large portable generator through
to selected household circuits via an inlet at your service panel (inset), allowing you to
power hardwired fixtures and appliances with the generator.

For full, on-demand backup service, install a large standby generator wired through to an
automatic transfer panel. In the event of a power outage, the household system instantly
switches to the generator.

A Typical Backup System

Backup generators supply power to a manual transfer switch, which disconnects the
house from the main service wires and routes power from the generator through selected
household circuits.

Choosing a Generator
Choosing a generator for your homes needs requires a few calculations. The chart below
gives an estimate of the size of generator typically recommended for a house of a certain
size. You can get a more accurate number by adding up the power consumption (the
watts) of all the circuits or devices to be powered by a generator. Its also important to
keep in mind that, for most electrical appliances, the amount of power required at the
moment you flip the ON switch is greater than the number of watts required to keep the
device running. For instance, though an air conditioner may run on 15,000 watts of power,
it will require a surge of 30,000 watts at startup (the power range required to operate an
appliance is usually listed somewhere on the device itself). These two numbers are called
run watts and surge watts. Generators are typically sold according to run watts (a 5,000watt generator can sustain 5,000 watts). They are also rated for a certain number of surge
watts (a 5,000-watt generator may be able to produce a surge of 10,000 watts). If the surge
watts arent listed, ask or check the manual. Some generators cant develop many more
surge watts than run watts; others can produce twice as much surge as run wattage.
Its not necessary to buy a generator large enough to match the surge potential of all
your circuits (you wont be turning everything on simultaneously), but surge watts should
factor in your purchasing decision. If you will be operating the generator at or near
capacity, it is also a wise practice to stagger startups for appliances.
SIZE OF HOUSE (IN SQUARE RECOMMENDED GENERATOR SIZE (IN
FEET)
KILOWATTS)
Up to 2,700

511

2,7003,700

1416

3,7004,700

20

4,7007,000

4247

Cord-connected Transfer Switches

Cord-connected transfer switches (shown above) are hard-wired to the service panel (in
some cases theyre installed after the service panel and operate only selected circuits).
These switches contain a male receptacle for a power supply cord connected to the
generator. Automatic transfer switches (not shown) detect voltage drop-off in the main
power line and switch over to the emergency power source.

When using a cord-connected switch, consider mounting an inlet box to the exterior
wall. This will allow you to connect a generator without running a cord into the house.

Generator Tips

If youll need to run sensitive electronics such as computers or home theater


equipment, look for a generator with power inverter technology that dispenses clean
power with a stable sine wave pattern.

A generator that will output 240-volt service is required to run most central air
conditioners. If your generator has variable output (120/240), make sure the switch is set
to the correct output voltage.

Running & Maintaining a Backup System


Even with a fully automatic standby generator system fueled by natural gas or propane,
you will need to conduct some regular maintenance and testing to make sure all systems
are ready in the event of power loss. If youre depending on a portable generator and
extension cords or a standby generator with a manual transfer switch, youll also need to
know the correct sequence of steps to follow in a power emergency. Switches and panels
also need to be tested on a regular basis, as directed in your owners manual. And be sure
that all switches (both interior and exterior) are housed in an approved enclosure box.

Smaller portable generators often use pull-cords instead of electric starters.


ANATOMY OF A PORTABLE BACKUP GENERATOR

Portable generators use small gasoline engines to generate power. A built-in electronics
panel sets current to AC or DC and the correct voltage. Most models will also include a
built-in circuit breaker to protect the generator from damage in the event it is connected
to too many loads. Better models include features like built-in GFCI protection. Larger
portable generators may also feature electric starter motors and batteries for push-button
starts.

Operating a Manual System During an Outage

Plug the generator in at the inlet box. Make sure the other end of the generators outlet
cord is plugged into the appropriate outlet on the generator (120-volt or 120/240-volt AC)
and the generator is switched to the appropriate voltage setting.

Start the generator with the pull-cord or electric starter (if your generator has one). Let
the generator run for several minutes before flipping the transfer switch.

Flip the manual transfer switch. Begin turning on loads one at a time by flipping breakers
on, starting with the ones that power essential equipment. Do not overload the generator

or the switch and do not run the generator at or near full capacity for more than 30
minutes at a time.

Maintaining and Operating an Automatic Standby Generator

If you choose to spend the money and install a dedicated standby generator of 10,000
watts or more and operate it through an automatic transfer switch or panel, you wont
need to lift a hand when your utility power goes out. The system kicks in by itself.
However, you should follow the manufacturers suggestions for testing the system,
changing the oil, and running the motor periodically.

Installing a Transfer Switch

A transfer switch is installed next to the main service panel to override the normal
electrical service with power from a backup generator during a power outage. Manual
transfer switches require an operator to change the power source, while automatic
switches detect the loss of power, start the back-up generator and switch over to the
backup power feed. Because the amount of electricity created by a backup generator is not
adequate to power all of the electrical circuits in your house, youll need to designate a few
selected circuits to get backup current (See Sidebar).

A manual transfer switch connects emergency circuits in your main panel to a standby
generator.

Tools & Materials


Circuit tester
Drill/driver
Screwdrivers
Hammer
Wire cutters
Cable ripper
Wire strippers
Level

Manual transfer switch


Screws
Wire connectors (yellow)
Standby power generator

One flip of a switch reassigns the power source for each critical circuit so your backup
generator can keep your refrigerator, freezer and important lights running during an
outage of utility power.

Selecting Backup Circuits


Before you purchase a backup generator, determine which loads you will want to
power from your generator in the event of a power loss. Generally, you will want to
power your refrigerator, freezer, and maybe a few lights. Add up the running wattage
ratings of the appliances you will power up to determine how large your backup
generator needs to be. Because the startup wattage of many appliances is higher than
the running wattage, avoid starting all circuits at the same timeit can cause an
overload situation with your generator. Here are some approximate running wattage
guidelines.
Refrigerator: 750 watts
Forced air furnace: 1100 to 1500 watts.
Incandescent lights: 60 watts per bulb (CFL and LED lights use less wattage)
Sump pump: 800 to 1000 watts
Garage door opener: 550 to 1100 watts

Television: 300 watts


Add the wattage values of all the loads you want to power and multiply the sum by
1.25. This will give you the minimum wattage your generator must produce. Portable
standby generators typically output 5,000 to 7,500 watts. Most larger, stationary
generator can output 10,000 to 20,000 watts (10 to 20 kilowatts).

How to Install a Manual Transfer Switch

Turn off the main power breaker in your electrical service panel. CAUTION: The
terminals where power enters the main breakers will still be energized.

Determine which household circuits are critical for emergency usage during a power
outage. Typically, this will include the refrigerator, freezer, furnace, and at least one light
or small appliance circuit.

Match your critical circuits with circuit inlet on your pre-wired transfer switch. Try to
balance the load as best you can: for example, if your refrigerator is on the leftmost circuit,
connect your freezer to the circuit farthest to the right. Double-pole (240-volt) circuits will
require two 120-volt circuit connections. Also make sure that 15-amp and 20-amp circuits
are not mismatched with one another.

Select a knockout at the bottom of the main service panel box and remove the knockout.
Make sure to choose a knockout that is sized to match the connector on the flexible
conduit coming from the transfer switch.

Feed the wires from the transfer switch into the knock out hole, taking care not to
damage the insulation. You will note that each wire is labeled according to which circuit
in the switch box it feeds.

Secure the flexible conduit from the switch box to the main service panel using a locknut
and a bushing where required.

Attach the transfer switch box to the wall so the closer edge is about 18 away from the
center of the main service panel. Use whichever connectors make sense for your wall
type.

Remove the breaker for the first critical circuit from the main service panel box and
disconnect the hot wire lead from the lug on the breaker.

Locate the red wire for the switch box circuit that corresponds to the circuit youve
disconnected. Attach the red wire to the breaker youve just removed and then reinstall
the breaker.

Locate the black wire from the same transfer switch circuit and twist it together with the
old feed wire, using a yellow wire connector. Tuck the wires neatly out of the way at the
edges of the box. Proceed to the next circuit and repeat the process.

If any of your critical circuits are 240-volt circuits, attach the red leads from the two
transfer switch circuits to the double-pole breaker. The two circuits originating in the
transfer switch should be next to one another and their switches should be connected
with a handle tie. If you have no 240-volt circuits you may remove the preattached
handle tie and use the circuits individually.

Once you have made all circuit connections, attach the white neutral wire from the
transfer switch to an opening in the neutral bus bar of the main service panel.

Attach the green ground wire from the transfer switch to an open port on the grounding
bar in your main service panel. This should complete the installation of the transfer
switch. Replace the cover on the service panel box and make sure to fill in the circuit map
on your switch box.

Begin testing the transfer switch by making sure all of the switches on the transfer
switch box are set to the LINE setting. The power should still be OFF at the main panel
breakers.

Standby Generators

Make sure your standby generator is operating properly and has been installed
professionally. See page 83 for information on choosing a generator that is sized
appropriately for your needs.

Before turning your generator on, attach the power cord from the generator to the switch
box. Never attach or detach a generator cord with the generator running. Turn your
standby power generator on and let it run for a minute or two.

Flip each circuit switch on the transfer switch box to GEN, one at a time. Try to maintain
balance by moving back and forth from circuits on the left and right side. Do not turn all
circuits on at the same time. Observe the onboard wattage meters as you engage each
circuit and try to keep the wattage levels in balance. When you have completed testing
the switch, turn the switches back to LINE and then shut off your generator.

A digital autoranging multimeter is the primary diagnostic tool for troubleshooting most
home wiring systems and fixtures. Here, the multimeter is indicating a voltage drop
outside the normal range.

Troubleshooting & Repairs

Running new circuits and hooking up new fixtures are fairly predictable projects when it
comes to estimating time and expense. This is less true with repairing problems in your
system and fixtures. In some cases, a repair is as simple as opening an electrical box,
spotting a loose wire connector and remaking the connection. But there are also times
when fixing a dead circuit or device is a highly frustrating proposition. Such cases are
almost always caused by tricky diagnostic challenges. Wires are hidden behind walls and
there very often are no visual clues to system breakdowns. So essentially, minimizing repair
frustration boils down to learning to deploy logical, systematic diagnostics. Educated
troubleshooting, you could say.
In this project youll learn how to use the most important diagnostic tool in any
electricians toolkit: the multimeter. These handy devices come in a dizzying array of types
and qualities, but for diagnostic purposes they are used to take readings for current
(amperage), voltage and continuity (whether an electrical path is open or closed). Once
you learn the basics of operating a multimeter, you can enlist it in a logical, deductive
manner to track down the source of a wiring problem. Once located, correcting the
problem is usually very simple.

Diagnostic tools for home wiring use include: Touchless circuit tester (A) to safely check
wires for current and confirm that circuits are dead; Plug-in tester (B) to check
receptacles for correct polarity, grounding and circuit protection; Multimeter (C) to
measure AC/DC voltage, AC/DC current, resistance, capacitance, frequency and duty
cycle (model shown is an auto-ranging digital multimeter with clamp-on jaws that
measure through sheathing and wire insulation).

Multimeters
Multimeters are nearly indispensible diagnostic tools for doing intermediate to advanced
level electrical work (as well as automotive and electronics repair). They are used to
measure voltage, current (amperage) and a few other conditions such as continuity,
capacitance and frequency. For your home electrical system, by far the most used feature
of a multimeter is testing voltage and current, although there are occasions where testing
for resistance is needed. Among professional electricians, the most common and widely
used multimeters have a clamp-on ammeter that measures current through the wire
insulation so you dont have to disconnect the circuit and expose bare wire. Most clampon multimeters also are fitted with insertible probes with which you can measure voltage
and continuity in the traditional way. An example of a clamp-on multimeter can be seen
on the next page. Among homeowners, however, the most common multimeters these
days are digital, auto-ranging tools that use probes or alligator clamps at the ends of wire
leads for diagnostic work. Older multimeters that do not have autoranging capability must
be pre-set to estimated calibration levels before use. Non-digital multimeters or ammeters
usually have a dial gauge that gives readouts. These tools are somewhat more difficult to
use and are less precise. Considering that digital, autoranging multimeters can be found
for just a few dollars (the top of the line models cost over $100) there is really no good
reason not to replace your old device with one that resembles the tools seen on these
pages.

Time to Replace that Neon Tester


Neon circuit testers are inexpensive and easy to use (if the light glows the circuit is hot),
but they are less sensitive than multimeters and can be unsafe. In some cases, neon
testers wont detect the presence of lower voltage in a circuit. This can lead you to
believe that a circuit is shut off when it is nota dangerous mistake. The small probes
on a neon circuit tester also force you to get too close to live terminals and wires. For the
most reliable readings, buy and learn to use a multimeter. At the very least, switch to a
touchless tester like the one on page 101, Step 1.

A digital, autoranging multimeter must be adjusted to the proper setting for the reading
you want to take. The probe leads also must be inserted into the correct inlet at the bottom
of the tool. Inserting the red lead into the incorrect inlet can cause the tool to trip an
internal fuse. Study your owners manual carefully before using any tool.

How to Measure Current

Create access to the wires you need to test. In most cases this requires that you remove
the cover to an electrical service panel or an electrical box (inset).

Set the multimeter to test for amperage (current is measured in amperes or amps). On
some multimeters you need to select between amperage settings that are above or below
40 amps. Use the rated amperage of the circuit as a guide (amperage is printed on the
circuit breaker switch).

Clamp the jaws of a clamp-on multimeter onto the conductor or one of the conductors
(if more than one) leading to a circuit breaker. If you are using a non-clamping multimeter,
touch one probe to the screw terminal where the hot lead is attached to the breaker and
touch the other probe to the metal panel box. The readout on your meter is the amount of
current flowing in that circuit.

Taking Measurements at a Receptacle


You may use a multimeter to measure for voltage at a wall receptacle. Regardless of
whether the outlet is in service, if it is live you will get a voltage reading in the

approximate range of the receptacle ratinghere, 120 volts. To detect live current,
measured in amps, the receptacle must be in use, with an appliance drawing from it.
Taking an amperage reading in such an instance will only yield the amount of current
being drawn, which is a factor of the appliance, not the circuit capacity.

How to Measure Voltage

To measure voltage using the multimeter, you will have to use the two probes provided
with the multimeter and have access to a live terminal or slot as well as a grounded
terminal or slot. If your meter has probe holders at the top, snap the probes into them.
They are like extra hands.

Turn the multimeter to the VAC setting to measure AC voltage that is found in your
house. Set the multimeter to VDC if measuring DC voltage, such as in a car or a batteryfed device. On some multimeters, like the one above, you select V for voltage then
change between AC and DC with the FUNC button.

To measure the AC voltage, place one probe on a grounded surface, such as the metallic
junction box or the bare ground wire. Place the other probe on the hot screw terminal or
into the receptacle slot associated with the hot wire. The voltage readout should be in the
range of 120 volts, plus or minus 5 volts (usually 120 volts in a residence in the US).

240 VOLTS. You can also measure voltage across the two hot leads to determine if you
have 240 volts. This can be done at your range receptacle, dryer receptacle, or any other
240-volt receptacle. Place one probe in one of the small slots and the other probe in the
other slot directly across from it. The voltage should read 240 volts, plus or minus 5 volts.

DC Voltage. When testing DC voltage, such as in a car battery, you can measure exactly
the same way as for AC as long as the meter is set to the DC function. For more accurate
results, test the voltage while the battery is in use.

How to Test for Continuity


Continuity is a condition in a circuit where the conductors form an unbroken pathway
through which current may flow. When measuring for continuity, always make sure there
is no power present on the circuit you are testing or damage may occur to the meter. You
can also measure the resistance in this mode as well.

The setting for continuity is an audible or diode symbol display on the dial. Select this
setting.

Verify that the continuity tester is functional by touching the two probes together. You
should hear an alert sound and/or see a reading of zero ohms (Ohms is a value of the
resistance to current flow).

To test a circuit, touch one probe to one of the wires on a given circuit and the other to
the second wire of the circuit. If you hear an audible sound or read a value of resistance
other than zero, you have a complete or unbroken path for current to flow.

How to Test a 3-way Switch


Remove the switch from the circuit and place one of the probes onto the common
terminal and the other probe onto one of the other two terminals used for the traveler
wires. If the meter indicates infinity ohms or there is no sound, flip the switch and if it is
in working order the meter should read zero ohms or emit an audible sound. It should
only work in one direction or the other, not both.

Troubleshooting an Open Neutral


An open neutral is an electrical problem where the circuit is broken on the return path
wire or neutral (white wire). When this situation occurs anything plugged into or
connected to this circuit can experience low or high voltage, which could damage voltage
sensitive electronics such as a computer or flat screen TV. The lights will be dim or not
work at all, depending upon where the problem lies within the circuit.

Possible Symptoms of an Open Neutral


1. When a whole circuit does not work and the breaker associated with that circuit is
operating normally.
2. When the neutral or white wire registers as a hot wire by using a non contact voltage
tester when the circuit breaker is on. This most likely indicates a problem between
the main service panel and the utility transformer. The condition should be readable
on other receptacles as well.
3. If you register a voltage lower than 110 volts between the hot and neutral.
4. When the incandescent lights work, but are very dim.
5. When the fluorescent lights are barely lit and are flickering.
6. Discoloration of the wires or exposed copper turning green under the wirenut
holding the neutral wires together.

How to Troubleshoot an Open Neutral

Verify which lights and receptacles are on the circuit by turning the breaker off and by
checking for power with a non-contact voltage tester. It is helpful to either draw a map of
the house or place some tape on every affected opening.

Start at the outlet nearest to the panel. With the breaker off and using a multimeter,
check for continuity between the neutral (white wire) and the ground (bare or green
wire). These two wires land at the same point electrically in your electrical panel. If there
is an indication of continuity between these two wires, the neutral and ground
connections are sound and you should proceed to the next outlet as you move away from
the panel.

When you encounter a point at which you read infinity ohms or there is no continuity
between the neutral and ground wires, the problem lies within the connections in that
box or the box just upstream (toward) the panel from the one you are checking. Sometimes
you will see evidence of arcing on the wire cap containing the connection which may
include discoloration, or a blackish char near the copper.

When you have found the problem connection, remove the wire cap and, if it is possible,
cut the damaged portions of the wires off and restrip the wires to expose new copper.
Line the wire ends up and twist on a new wire cap.

Turn the circuit breaker back on and verify the proper voltage is present at your
receptacles by measuring with a multimeter.

Troubleshooting a Short Circuit


Short circuits are a direct connection between the hot or power wire (black or red) and to
either the neutral (white) or ground (bare) wire. This connection between the two will
cause your circuit breaker or fuse to blow, which should interrupt power to the affected
circuit.
Short circuits are a common problem and can usually be solved by taking the following
steps. The idea behind electrical troubleshooting is to simplify the circuit by checking it at
certain points, in order to narrow down the problem point by process of elimination.
Generally, the problem is that there is a bare ground wire touching a hot terminal within a
switch or an outlet box. There will usually be a black scorched mark or some sign of an
electrical arc where the problem lies.

How to Troubleshoot a Short Circuit

Turn the power off at the affected breaker and verify with a non-contact voltage tester
that there is no power present. Unplug everything from the receptacles and turn the
lights off on the circuit that is affected.

Using a multimeter set to the ohms or continuity setting, check the wires at the panel.
Touch one of the probes to the hot or black wire and the other probe to the ground or bare
wire. If the meter rings or indicates a low resistance value, you have a direct short to
ground. If the meter does not ring or indicates a high resistance value the circuit is clear. If
the meter does not ring, start by turning the switches on one-by-one and re-testing to
verify the resistance value. If the meter indicates a low resistance value or a short circuit,
the problem is downstream from the switch or within the light fixture itself.

If the meter consistently rings or indicates a low resistive value, you will need to find the
electrical box that contains the affected circuit. Choose a box that is convenient to open
and preferably in the middle of the run, such as a receptacle. Verify there is no power
present by touching all of the wires within the box with a non-contact voltage tester.

If the box you have chosen is in fact in the middle of the run, it will contain at least two
cables. Remove the receptacle from the two cables and separate all of the wires.

Check the resistance between the black and the ground on both sets of cables. One of the
cables should cause the continuity alert to ring and the other should not. Mark the
affected one with a piece of black tape and place wire caps over the exposed ends of the
black wires.

Check the wires at the panel to see if the short has cleared. If the short is clear, the

problem lies down stream from the opened box and it is now safe to turn the breaker back
on to help eliminate further problem points. If the short is still present, the problem lies
between the opened electrical box and the panel.

Choose another box in the middle of the affected circuit, there by narrowing down the
possible problem areas until the short circuit can be positively identified and corrected.
When you have discovered the short circuit, verify the wires are still in good shape and
repair the connection.

Common Residential Wiring Codes

Home wiring is a very popular do-it-yourself subject that is fundamentally hazardous.


When it comes to electricity, mistakes and accidents do pose threats including fire, injury,
and death. Therefore, safety is the primary focus of the electrical code provisions.
In this chapter you will find many of the rules governing safe installation of electrical
wires, electrical equipmentincluding conduit, electrical receptacles, switches, lights, and
other fixtures. Use this information to inspect your wiring and make sure it all conforms to
code. If it does not, or if you are unsure about it, have a professional electrician upgrade
your electrical system.

The National Electrical Code (NEC), and local electrical codes and building codes,
provide guidelines for determining how much power and how many circuits your home
needs. Your local electrical inspector can tell you which regulations apply to your job.

Prepare for inspections. Remember that your work must be reviewed by your local
electrical inspector. When planning your wiring project, always follow the inspectors
guidelines for quality workmanship.

General Requirements
CLOSURE OF UNUSED OPENINGS
1. Close all openings in boxes, conduit bodies, and cabinets with material that provides
protection equal to the original opening cover. This means using plastic or metal
knockout covers. Tape and cardboard do not provide equal protection.
2. Recess metal knockout covers in nonmetallic boxes and conduit bodies at least 1/4 inch
from the surface of the box or conduit body.
3. Cover open outlet boxes with a blank cover, a blank plate, or fixture canopy. Switch
plates and receptacle plates do not provide complete closure for electrical boxes.
4. Ground metal covers and plates.
IDENTIFICATION OF CIRCUITS IN ELECTRICAL PANELS
1. Provide a legible and permanent marking or label that identifies the purpose of circuit
breakers, fuses, and other equipment used to disconnect power from a circuit. Identify
the circuit in enough detail so that it can be distinguished from all other circuits.
Example: do not identify a circuit as general lighting. Identify the specific rooms or
outlets served by the circuit. A marking or label is not required if the purpose of the
disconnecting equipment is self-evident. Use marking or labeling materials that will
withstand the environment where the disconnecting equipment is located.
2. Locate the circuit identification on the face of the panelboard enclosure or on the inside
panelboard door.

Cover open conduit knockouts in electrical boxes with an approved plastic or metal cap
(inset).

Cover open circuit breaker knockouts with an approved plastic or metal cover.
PROHIBITED LOCATIONS FOR EXISTING ELECTRICAL PANELS
1. Do not locate electrical panels and circuit breakers or fuses in clothes closets, bathrooms,
or spaces designated for storage.

Label each circuit in all electrical panels so that the purpose of each circuit is clear.
WORKING CLEARANCES AROUND ELECTRICAL PANELS
1. Inspect your electrical service panel to make sure it conforms to code. If not, hire a
professional electrician to relocate it. Panel should have a clear working space in front of
electrical panel enclosures and other equipment and enclosures that require access
while interior parts are energized. Examples of other enclosures and equipment include
air conditioner and furnace service-disconnect boxes.
2. Clear working space should be at least 36 inches deep, and at least 30 inches wide (or as
wide as the enclosure, if it is wider than 30 inches), and at least 78 inches high. Measure
the clear working space in front of the enclosure beginning at the front of the enclosure.
Measure the clear working space from the energized parts, if the parts requiring access
are not in an enclosure.
3. Panel should have enough clearance so that the enclosure door can be opened at least
90 degrees.
4. Do not allow any objects located above or below the electrical enclosures to extend into
the clear working space more than six inches beyond the front of the electrical
enclosure.
5. Panel should provide access to the clear working space. Do not block access with
shelves, workbenches, or other difficult to move objects.

CLEAR SPACE ABOVE & BELOW ELECTRICAL PANEL ENCLOSURES


1. Maintain a clear space directly above and below electrical panel enclosures, free from
any components not associated with the electrical system. This space is intended for
wires entering and leaving the electrical panel. Do not install plumbing pipes, HVAC
ducts, and similar components in this space.
2. Maintain a clear space that is at least the width and depth of the electrical panel
enclosure.

Your equpment should include a safe space above, in front of, and below all electrical
panels and similar electrical equipment. If your panel does not meet these standards, have
it relocated by a professional.

Use wire connectors rated for the wires you are connecting. Wire connectors are colorcoded by size, but the coding scheme varies according to manufacturer. The wire
connectors shown above come from one major manufacturer. To ensure safe connections,
each connector is rated for both minimum and maximum wire capacity. These connectors
can be used to connect both conducting wires and grounding wires. Green wire
connectors are used only for grounding wires.
SPLICING WIRES
1. Splice (join) wires using only listed devices such as appropriate sized wire connectors.
Use wire connector according to manufacturers recommendations regarding the
minimum and maximum number and size of wires that the connector can
accommodate.
2. Cover spliced wires with material equal to the original insulation. This does not include
electrical tape or similar materials.
3. For splice wires that will be buried in the ground, use only devices listed for direct burial
and install them according to manufacturers instructions.
4. Provide access to spliced wires, unless the splice and splicing device are specifically
allowed to be concealed. Access is usually provided by an accessible, covered junction
box.
5. Do not place wire splices in a raceway unless the raceway has a removable cover.

Twist wire connectors over the ends of individual conductors that have been stripped of
insulation. Pre-twist wires together with pliers or linesmans pliers (optional). Do not leave
bare wire exposed beneath bottom of connector.

Push-in connectors are a relatively new product for joining wires. Instead of twisting the
bare wire ends together, you strip off about 3/4 of insulation and insert them into a hole
in the connector. The connectors come with two to four holes sized for various gauge
wires. These connectors are perfect for inexperienced DIYers because they do not pull
apart like a sloppy twisted connection can.
SPLICING ALUMINUM & COPPER WIRES
1. Splice (join) aluminum and copper wires together using devices listed for splicing
aluminum and copper wires. Look for a mark or label such as AL/CU on the device or
on the package for assurance that the device is listed for splicing aluminum and copper
wires. Some wire nuts sold for residential use are not listed for splicing aluminum and
copper wires.
2. Use only inhibitors and antioxidant compounds that are approved for splicing
aluminum and copper wires. These materials should not degrade or damage the wires,
wire insulation, or equipment. Read and follow manufacturers instructions.
LENGTH OF WIRES EXTENDING FROM BOXES
1. Extend wires at least three inches beyond the opening of any electrical box, junction, or
switch point, if the opening is less than eight inches in any direction. This applies to
most switch, receptacle, and light fixture mounting boxes used in residential electrical

systems.
2. Extend wires at least six inches beyond where the wires emerge from the raceway or
cable sheathing. Example: NM cable enters a single residential switch box with one inch
of intact sheathing (outer cover). Begin the six inches measurement where the
sheathing ends. The cable should extend at least seven inches from the rear of the box.
The NM cable should also extend at least three inches beyond the outside edge of the
box.
CONNECTING WIRES TO TERMINALS
1. Remove insulation from wires and connect wires to terminals without damaging the
wire. Do not connect damaged wires to terminals. Example: if you nick, damage, or cut
strands from a stranded wire, cut the wire back to where it is full size and use the full,
undamaged wire.
2. Connect more than one wire to a terminal only if the terminal is identified to accept
multiple wires. Example: many panelboards require one wire per terminal for the
grounded (neutral) wires and allow two or more same gauge wires per terminal for the
equipment grounding wires. Example: many circuit breakers allow only one hot
(ungrounded) wire per circuit breaker terminal.

Extend wires past the box opening at least 3.


3. Connect aluminum wires to terminals only if the terminal is identified to accept
aluminum wires.

VIOLATION! Do not connect multiple neutral or hot wires to a terminal unless


specifically allowed (neutral bus bar seen here has two neutral conductors connected to
single terminal).

VIOLATION! Never connect multiple hot wires to the same terminal on circuit breakers
or other electrical devices unless specifically allowed by the manufacturer.
WIRE COLOR CODES
1. Use wires with white or gray colored insulation or wires with three white stripes on
other than green insulation as neutral (grounded) wires. You may use wires with other
than white or gray colored insulation as neutral (grounded) wires if they are larger than
#6 AWG and if you mark them with a permanent white marking at all wire
terminations.
2. Use wires with green colored insulation or wires with green colored insulation and at
least one yellow stripe as equipment grounding wires. You may use uninsulated (bare)
wires as equipment grounding wires in most circuits.
3. You may use any color other than white, gray, or green as hot (ungrounded) wires. The

common colors are red and black. You may use a wire with white or gray insulation as a
hot (ungrounded) wire if the wire is part of a cable (such as NM) and if you
permanently mark it as a hot (ungrounded) conductor at all places where the wire is
visible and accessible. This marking is usually done by wrapping the end of the wire
with black or red electrical tape.

Wire Color Chart


WIRE COLOR

FUNCTION

White

neutral wire: at zero voltage in


many, but not all, circuits

Black

hot wire carrying current at


full voltage

Red

hot wire carrying current at


full voltage

White,
Black
markings

hot wire carrying current at


full voltage

Green

serves as a grounding pathway

Bare
copper

serves as a grounding pathway

Individual wires are color-coded to identify their function. In some circuit


installations, the white wire serves as a hot wire that carries voltage. If so, this white
wire may be labeled with black tape or paint to identify it as a hot wire.

Wire Size Chart


WIRE GAUGE

WIRE CAPACITY & USE

#6

55 amps; central air conditioner,


electric furnace

#8

40 amps; electric range, central air


conditioner

#10

30 amps; window air conditioner,

clothes dryer

#12

20 amps; light fixtures, receptacles,


microwave oven

#14

15 amps; light fixtures, receptacles

#16

light-duty extension cords

#18 to thermostats, doorbells, security systems


22

Wire sizes (shown actual size) are categorized by the American Wire Gauge system.
The larger the wire size, the smaller the AWG number.
NEUTRAL & EQUIPMENT GROUNDING WIRE CONTINUITY
1. Connect neutral (grounded) wires together in device boxes if the neutral (grounded)
wire is part of a multiwire branch circuit. Do not rely on any device, such as a
receptacle or light fixture, to provide the connection for the neutral (grounded) wire in
a multiwire branch circuit.
2. Connect equipment grounding wires together in all device boxes. Do not rely on any
device, such as a receptacle or light fixture, to provide the connection for the

equipment grounding wire in any circuit.


3. Install a wire (called a pigtail) between the connected wires and any device in the box.

Use a pigtail when you need to connect multiple wires together and use one wire to
connect to a terminal.

Inspect your service clearance to make sure individual service wires are within 3 ft. from
doors, operable windows, and decks.
OVERHEAD SERVICE DROP WIRE CLEARANCES
1. Service should provide at least three feet clearance between service drop and service
entrance wires and porches, decks, stairs, ladders, fire escapes, balconies, sides of doors,
and sides and bottoms of operable windows (not the tops of windows). Clearance
should be provided only to service drops and service entrance wires that consist of
individual wires and wires that are not protected by a raceway or outer jacket. This
means that clearances are usually required for utility service drop wires and are not
required for SE type service entrance cable and for wires or cables installed in conduit or
tubing.
2. Service should provide at least eight feet vertical clearance between service drop wires
and a roof not designed for regular pedestrian traffic with a slope less than four inches

in 12 inches.
3. Service should provide at least 10 feet vertical clearance between service drop wires
and a roof designed for regular pedestrian traffic. Access to such a roof would usually be
by stairs or by a door and the roof edges would be protected by a guard.
4. Service should provide at least three feet vertical clearance between service drop wires
and roof with a slope at least four inches in 12 inches.
5. Service should provide at least 18 inches vertical clearance between service drop wires
and a roof if: (a) the wires pass only over the overhang portion of the roof, and if (b) not
more than six feet of wire pass over not more than four linear feet of roof surface
measured horizontally, and if (c) the wires enter a through-the-roof mast or terminate
at an approved support.
SERVICE DROP CLEARANCE ABOVE GROUND
1. Measure the vertical clearance between service drop wires and the ground, walkway,
driveway, or street beginning at the lowest point of the service drop wires and ending
at the surface under the wires lowest point. The lowest point of the service drop wires
is often at the drip loop, but it could be at the point of attachment to the house or it
could be where the wires enter the house.
2. Provide at least 10 feet vertical clearance between service drop wires and areas or
sidewalks accessed by pedestrians only.
3. Provide at least12 feet vertical clearance between service drop wires and residential
property and driveways.
4. Provide at least 18 feet vertical clearance between service drop wires and public streets,
alleys, roads, or parking areas subject to truck traffic.

Safety Tip
If your electrical service entry does not conform to the codes, hire a professional to
update it.

The service drop must occur at least 10 ft. above ground level, and as much as 18 ft. in
some cases. Occasionally, this means that you must run the conduit for the service mast
up through the eave of your roof and seal the roof penetration with a boot.

Safe clearance between service drop wires and the ground.

Inspect Electrical Panels for Proper Grounding


GROUNDING & BONDING AT SERVICE PANELS AND SUBPANELS
1. The neutral (grounded) wire should be connected to the grounding electrode wire at
the nearest accessible point at or before the service equipment (main disconnect). The
service equipment is usually the most convenient accessible grounding point because
the meter enclosure and points before it are usually locked or secured and not
accessible. The grounding electrode wire connects the neutral (grounded) wire to a
grounding electrode.

The neutral and grounding wires should not be connected to the same bus in most
subpanels. The grounding bus should be bonded to the subpanel cabinet. The neutral bus
should not be bonded to the subpanel cabinet.

Metallic conduit must be physically and electrically connected to panel cabinets. A


bonding bushing may be required, in some cases, where all of a knockout is not removed.
2. The neutral (grounded) wire should not be connected to ground at any other place
downstream from the service equipment grounding point. An exception to this rule
exists when two buildings are supplied by one electric service.
3. All metal parts of the electrical system should be connected to the neutral (grounded)
wire. This includes service equipment and panelboard cases, any metal electrical
conduit or tubing, and all metal pipes in the building (such as metal water and gas
pipe).

Parts of a common electrical service configuration.


SERVICE GROUNDING AT TWO BUILDINGS USING FOUR-WIRE FEEDER
1. This is the procedure that should be used when installing a new feeder cable to a
second building from the building with the primary electric service. This procedure is
not required if there is only one branch circuit in the second building and if the new
feeder cable contains an equipment grounding wire.
(a) A feeder cable should be installed to the second building that contains an equipment
grounding wire. The equipment grounding wire should have been sized as required by
International Residential Code Section E3908.
(b) A grounding electrode should be installed at both buildings.
(c) The feeder cable equipment grounding wire should be connected to the grounding
electrode wire at the second building subpanel grounding bus. All second building
branch circuit equipment grounding wires should be connected to the grounding bus.
(d) The subpanel case should be bonded to the grounding bus.
(e) The feeder cable neutral (grounded) wire should be connected to an isolated grounded
bus at the second building subpanel. The grounded bus should not be connected to the
subpanel case or to the grounding bus.

Wiring diagram for wiring a 4-wire feeder from the main service panel to a subpanel in a
separate building.

Grounding Electrodes & Electrode Wires


GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
1. Every electrical service should be provided at least one approved type of grounding
electrode. The most common grounding electrodes are underground metal water pipe,
driven rod and pipe, and concrete encased.
2. All grounding electrodes that may be available at a building should be bonded together.
General codes do not require that all possible types of grounding electrodes be installed.
They require that if a grounding electrode is installed, it must be connected (bonded) to
all other grounding electrodes and to the neutral (grounded) wire.
3. A bonding jumper at least as large as the grounding electrode wire should be used to
connect (bond) the grounding electrodes. Bonding jumpers may be connected between
grounding electrodes at any convenient point.
4. The grounding electrode wire may be connected at any convenient grounding
electrode.
5. Metal underground gas pipe should never be used as a grounding electrode.

Current Wiring Methods


The table Current Wiring Methods lists the wiring methods currently allowed in
residential construction. Note that certain wiring methods may not be used in certain
applications.
APPROVED USES FOR WIRING METHODS
1. The table Current Wiring Methods Allowed Usesg lists when a wiring method may be
used in a specific application. Note that some wiring methods have restrictions or
limitations shown by the following superscripts in the table: (1) use less than six feet of
LFC if the conduit walls are not reinforced, (2) insulate the neutral (grounded) wire
unless the cable is used to supply other buildings on the same property, (3) insulate the
neutral (grounded) wire, (4) use wires approved for wet locations and seal raceways to
prevent water entry, (5) use materials listed as sunlight resistant, (6) protect metal
raceways from corrosion, (7) use Schedule 80 RNC, (8) use materials listed as sunlight
resistant if exposed to direct sunlight, (9) use less than six feet of conduit.

Current Wiring Methods


WIRING METHOD

ABBREVIATION

Armored cable

AC

Electrical metallic tubing

EMT

Electrical nonmetallic tubing

ENT

Flexible metal conduit

FMC

Intermediate metal conduit

IMC

Liquidtight flexible conduit

LFC

Metal-clad cable

MC

Nonmetallic sheathed cable

NM

Rigid nonmetallic conduit

RNC

Rigid metallic conduit

RMC

Service entrance cable

SE

Surface raceways

SR

Underground feeder cable

UF

Underground service cable

USE

RULES FOR NM CABLE


1. Use table NM Cable Maximum Ampacity to determine the maximum ampacity and
overcurrent protection of NM cable. NM cable is often referred to by the trade name
Romex. This table will apply to almost all branch circuit and feeder wiring in modern
residential electrical systems. Example: the maximum rating for a circuit breaker
protecting Number 12 copper wire is 20 amps.

NM Cable Maximum Ampacity


WIRE SIZE
(AWG)

COPPER WIRE
(AMPS)

ALUMINUM WIRE
(AMPS)

14

15

12

20

15

10

30

25

40

30

55

40

70

55

85

65

95

75

110

85

Rigid metal conduit has threaded ends for making watertight connections with femalethreaded fittings and couplings.

Electrical nonmetallic tubing (A) is an interior-rated material. Liquid-tight flexible


conduit can be all nonmetallic (B) or it can be metallic conduit with a nonmetallic sheath
(C).

Nonmetallic sheathed cable is available in the most common gauges used in residential
construction.

Maximum Hole or Notch Size in Studs and Joists


FRAMING MEMBER

MAXIMUM HOLE SIZE MAXIMUM NOTCH SIZE

2 4 load-bearing stud

1-7/16 diameter

7/8 deep

2 4 nonload-bearing stud 2-1/8 diameter


2 6 load-bearing stud
2-1/4 diameter

1-7/16 deep
1-3/8 deep

2 6 nonload-bearing stud 3-5/16 diameter

2-3/16 deep

2 6 joists

1-7/8 diameter

7/8 deep

2 8 joists

2-3/8 diameter

1-1/4 deep

2 10 joists

3-1/16 diameter

1-1/2 deep

2 12 joists
3-3/4 diameter
1-7/8 deep
This framing member chart shows the maximum sizes for holes and notches that can
be cut into studs and joists when running cables. When boring holes, there must be at
least 5/8 of wood between the edge of a stud and the hole, and at least 2 between the
edge of a joist and the hole. Joists can be notched only in the end 1/3 of the overall
span, never in the middle 1/3 of the joist.
NM & UF CABLE INSTALLATION
1. Use NM and UF cable where the cable is not subject to physical damage. Physical
damage can occur unless the cable is covered by drywall or other material or unless the
cable is run in conduit or tubing. Physical damage includes damage by sunlight.
2. Protect NM and UF cable using RMC, IMC, EMT, or Schedule 80 RNC when the cable
is subject to physical damage. Extend the protection at least six inches above the floor
when the cable runs through the floor. This provision applies to exposed wall framing,
such as unfinished basements and garages, and to cable that runs through framed and
concrete slab floors. This provision does not apply to cable run in attics and in basement
ceiling joists.
3. Protect NM and UF cable using nail guards or other approved physical protection when
the cable is installed: (a) through holes, notches, or grooves that are closer than 1-1/4
inches to the edge of a stud or joist, (b) in notches and grooves in places such as drywall,
plaster, and under carpet, unless the groove or notch is deeper than 1-1/4 inches, (c)
through holes in metal framing (use grommets or bushings), and (d) parallel to the edge
of a stud, joist, or furring strip when the cable is closer than 1-1/4 inches to the edge of
the framing member.
4. Support NM and UF cable every 4-1/2 feet. Use wire staples or other approved
fasteners to secure vertical runs of NM and UF cable. Staple the cable only on the flat
edge. NM and UF cable run across the tops of joists is usually considered supported.
5. Secure NM and UF cable not more than 8 inches from boxes and terminations that do
not have cable clamps. This includes most plastic boxes. Secure NM and UF cable not
more than 12 inches from boxes and terminations that have cable clamps. This includes
most metal boxes. Measure the support distance from where the cable sheathing ends

in the box, not from the box itself.


6. Use NM cable only in dry locations that are indoors and not within concrete or masonry
that is exposed to the ground. Do not use NM cable in conduit that is buried in the
ground. Buried conduit is considered a wet location. You may use UF cable in wet
locations including outdoors and underground if it is not subject to damage.

VIOLATION! Do not install NM and UF cable on drywall.

VIOLATION! Do not install NM and UF cable inside cabinets.

VIOLATION! Do not install NM and UF cable in exposed walls and ceilings. You may
install NM and UF cable in exposed basement ceilings and attics under certain conditions.

VIOLATION! Do not install NM cable outdoors. Outdoors includes buried conduit. You
may install UF cable outdoors if it is protected from physical damage.

Support NM and UF cable at least every 4-1/2 ft. Cable on top of ceiling joists is
considered supported.

Secure NM and UF cable within 8 from where the cable enters or leaves a plastic box.
Measure from where the cable sheathing ends in the box, not from the edge of the box.

Electrical Receptacle Installation

Whether you call them outlets, plug-ins, or receptacles, these important devices
represent the point where the rubber meets the road in your home wiring system. From
the basic 15-amp, 120-volt duplex receptacle to the burly 50-amp, 240-volt appliance
receptacle, the many outlets in your home do pretty much the same thing: transmit power
to a load.
Learning the essential differences between receptacles does not take long. Amperage is
the main variable, as each receptacle must match the amperage and voltage of the circuit
in which it is installed. A 15-amp circuit should be wired with 15-amp receptacles; a 20amp circuit needs 20-amp receptacles (identified by the horizontal slot that Ts into each
tall polarized slot). A 20-amp multi-receptacle circuit may use either 15 or 20-amp
receptacles. Receptacles for 240-volt service have unique slot configurations so you cant
accidentally plug in an appliance thats not rated for the amperage in the circuit. Some
receptacles can be wired using the push-in wire holes, but this is not recommended. Some
receptacles provide built-in, ground-fault circuit protection, tripping the circuit breaker if
there is a short circuit or power surge. These are easy to identify by reset and test buttons.
RECEPTACLE INSTALLATION IN ROOMS
1. Apply these provisions to receptacles in living rooms, family rooms, bedrooms, dens,
sunrooms, recreation rooms, dining rooms, breakfast rooms, libraries, and similar living
areas. Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, garages, laundry rooms, and exterior receptacles
have their own installation requirements.
2. Install the required interior receptacles so that any point along a wall is not more than
six feet from a receptacle. Do not include operable doors, fireplaces, closet interiors, and
similar openings when measuring a wall. A wall begins at the edge of an opening and
continues around any corners to the next opening. Walls include fixed (not sliding)
panels in doors that are at least two feet wide. Walls include partial height walls that
serve functions such as room dividers and walls that form breakfast bars and similar bartype counters. Walls include guards and railings at balconies, raised floors, and other
areas where furniture could be placed.

3. Locate floor receptacles intended to serve as required interior receptacles not more than
18 inches from the wall. You may install interior floor receptacles at any safe place, but
you may count only receptacles not more than 18 inches from the wall among the
required receptacles.
4. Install receptacles not more than 66 inches above the finished floor. You may install
receptacles at any height, but you may count only receptacles not more than 66 inches
above the finished floor among the required receptacles.

Example of receptacle spacing requirements in a typical room. Measure receptacle


spacing distance along the wall line. Install receptacles along partial height walls and along
balcony guards in lofts and similar areas.
KITCHEN COUNTERTOP RECEPTACLE INSTALLATION
1. Install a GFCI protected receptacle at every kitchen countertop that is at least 12 inches
wide.
2. Install kitchen countertop receptacles so that all points along the countertop wall are
not more than two feet from a receptacle. A wall begins at the edge of an opening or
appliance and continues around any corners and ends at the next opening or
appliance. Include windows when measuring the wall unless the window is above a
sink or cooking appliance.
3. Install receptacles behind a sink or cooking appliance located along a straight wall if the
countertop behind the sink or cooking appliance is at least 12 inches wide. Install
receptacles behind a sink or cooking appliance located along a wall corner if the
countertop behind the sink or cooking appliance is at least 18 inches wide.
4. Install receptacles not more than 20 inches above the countertop. You may install
receptacles at any height, but you may include only receptacles not more than 20 inches

above the countertop among the required kitchen countertop receptacles.


5. Do not include among the required kitchen countertop receptacles: (a) receptacles
located in appliance garages, and (b) receptacles dedicated for a fixed-in-place
appliance, and (c) receptacles not readily accessible for use by small appliances.
6. Do not install receptacles face up on work surfaces.

Example of countertop receptacle spacing in a typical kitchen.

You must install receptacles behind a short run of countertop if it is at least 12 wide
along a straight wall.

You must install receptacles behind a sink or cooking appliance if the countertop behind
the sink or cooking appliance is at least 18 wide in a corner cabinet.

Safety Tip
Always shut off power at the main service panel before inspection, repairing, or
installing receptacles.

Ground-fault (GFCI) & Arc-fault (AFCI) Protection


GROUND-FAULT LOCATION REQUIREMENTS
1. Kitchen. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection on all 120-volt
receptacles that serve kitchen countertops. This does not include receptacles under the
kitchen sink and receptacles located on kitchen walls that do not serve the countertop.
2. Bathroom. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection on all 120-volt
receptacles located in bathrooms. This applies to all receptacles regardless of where they
are located in the bathroom and includes receptacles located at countertops, inside
cabinets, and along bathroom walls. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI)
protection on all circuits serving electrically heated floors in bathrooms.
3. Garage and Accessory Building Receptacles. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt
(GFCI) protection on all 120-volt receptacles located in garages and grade-level areas of
unfinished accessory buildings. You do not need to provide GFCI protection for
receptacles that are not readily accessible such as receptacles in the garage ceiling. You
do not need to provide GFCI protection for dedicated receptacles that serve an
appliance that is not easily moved. Examples of dedicated receptacles include
receptacles for water softeners, refrigerators, alarm systems, and central vacuums. The
receptacle must be a single receptacle when serving a single appliance or a duplex
receptacle if serving two appliances. A duplex receptacle serving one appliance is a
violation.
4. Exterior receptacles. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection on all 120volt receptacles located outdoors. This does not apply to receptacles that are dedicated
for deicing equipment and are located under the eaves. This applies to holiday lighting
receptacles located under the eaves.
5. Basement receptacles. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection on all
120-volt receptacles located in unfinished basements. An unfinished basement is not
intended as habitable space and is limited to storage and work space. The exceptions for
garage receptacles apply to unfinished basement receptacles.

Ground-fault receptacles and circuit breakers detect unwanted current running


between an energized wire and a grounded wire.

A combination ARC-fault circuit breaker detects sparking (arcing) faults along damaged
energized wires and detects these faults between wires. A branch ARC-fault circuit
breaker only detects arcing faults between wires. Use only combination ARC-fault circuit
breakers in new work and when replacing old ARC-fault breakers.
6. Crawl space receptacles. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection on all
120-volt receptacles located in crawl spaces. Receptacles in crawl spaces are not
required unless equipment requiring service is located there.
7. Laundry, utility, and bar sink receptacles. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI)
protection on all 120-volt receptacles that are located within six feet of the outside edge
of a laundry, utility, or bar sink. This includes wall, floor, and countertop receptacles.
This includes any appliance receptacles within the six feet distance, such as the

washing machine receptacle.


8. Boathouse receptacles. Install ground-fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection on all
120-volt receptacles located in boathouses.
9. Spas, tubs, and other circuits requiring ground-fault protection. Install ground-fault
circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection on all circuits serving spa tubs, whirlpool tubs, hot
tubs, and similar equipment. Refer to the general codes for more information about
receptacles serving these components.
ARC-FAULT LOCATION REQUIREMENTS
1. Install an arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) on each 120-volt branch circuit serving
bedrooms. This means that lighting, smoke alarm, receptacle, and any other bedroom
outlets must be AFCI protected. Install the AFCI at the origination of the branch circuit.
2. Use only combination type AFCI after January 1, 2008.
3. You may install the AFCI not more than six feet from the origination of the branch
circuit if you run the wires in metal conduit or a metallic sheath. Measure the six feet
along the branch circuit wires.
4. Note that the 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) requires AFCI protection for all 15
and 20-amp branch circuits. This requirement is controversial and may not be adopted
in every jurisdiction. Verify local adoption of the 2008 NEC requirement with your local
building official.

Receptacles for whirlpool tubs must be GFCI protected.

Junction Boxes, Device Boxes & Enclosures

All electrical boxes are available in different depths. A box must be deep enough so a
switch or receptacle can be removed or installed easily without crimping and damaging
the circuit wires. Replace an undersized box with a larger box using the Electrical Box Fill
Chart (see page 124) as a guide. The NEC also says that all electrical boxes must remain
accessible. Never cover an electrical box with drywall, paneling, or wall coverings.
NONMETALLIC BOX INSTALLATION
1. Use nonmetallic boxes only with NM type cable or with nonmetallic conduit or tubing.
You may use nonmetallic boxes with metallic conduit or tubing if you maintain the
electrical continuity of the metallic conduit or tubing by installing a bonding jumper
through the box. In many situations it is easier to use a metallic box with metallic
conduit or tubing.
2. Extend NM cable sheathing at least 1/4 inch into a nonmetallic box knockout opening.
3. Secure NM cable, conduit, and tubing to each box. You may secure NM cable with
cable clamps inside the box or with compression tabs provided where the cable enters
the box. You do not need to secure NM cable to a standard single-gang box (2-1/4 by
four inches) mounted in a wall or ceiling if you fasten the cable not more than eight
inches from the box and if the sheathing enters the box at least 1/4 inch. Measure the
eight inches along the length of the sheathing, not from the outside of the box.
LIGHT FIXTURE BOX INSTALLATION
1. Use boxes designed for mounting light fixtures if a light fixture is to be mounted to the
box. These boxes are usually four-inch round or octagonal. You may use other boxes if
the light fixture weighs not more than six pounds and is secured to the box using at
least two #6 or larger screws.
2. Support light fixtures weighing at least 50 pounds independently from the light fixture
box. You may use the light fixture box to support light fixtures weighing less than 50
pounds. Note that ceiling fans are not light fixtures.

Box shape is directly related to function, as electrical fixtures are created to fit on boxes of
a particular shape. Octagonal and round boxes generally are designed for ceiling mounting,
while square and rectangular boxes are sized for single-pole, duplex, and other standard
switch and receptacle sizes.

Do not support heavy light fixtures using only the light fixture electrical box. The eye
hook supporting this chandelier is driven into the same ceiling joist to which the electrical
box is mounted.
BOX CONTENTS LIMITATIONS
1. Limit the number of wires, devices (such as switches and receptacles), and fittings in a

box. This limitation is primarily based on the heat generated by the wires and devices in
the box. The actual size of the box relative to its contents is a secondary consideration.
2. Use the cubic inch volume printed on the box or provided in the box manufacturers
instructions to determine box volume. Do not attempt to measure the box volume. Do
not estimate box volume from the volume of similar size boxes. You will probably not get
the same volume as provided by the manufacturer.
3. Use table Wire Volume Unit to determine the volume units required by wires,
devices, and fittings in a box.
BOX INSTALLATION TOLERANCES
1. Install boxes in non-combustible material, such as masonry, so that the front edge is not
more than 1/4 inch from the finished surface.
2. Install boxes in walls and ceilings made of wood or other combustible material so that
the front edge is flush with the finished surface or projects from the finished surface.
3. Cut openings for boxes in drywall and plaster so that the opening is not more than 1/8
inch from the perimeter of the box.

Boxes must be installed so the front edges are flush with the finished wall surface, and
the gap between the box and the wall covering is not more than 1/8.

Wire Volume Unit


WIRE SIZE (AWG)

WIRE VOLUME

18
16

1.50 in.3
1.75 in.3

14

2.00 in.3

12

2.25 in.3

10

2.50 in.3

3.00 in.3

5.00 in.3

Volume Units
Calculate the volume units required by wires, devices, and fittings based on the
following definitions:
Volume units for current-carrying wires. Allow one volume unit for each individual
hot (ungrounded) and neutral (grounded) wire in the box. Use Table 47 to determine
the volume units of common wire sizes. Example: two pieces of #14/2 NM are in a box.
Each piece of this cable contains one hot (ungrounded) and one neutral (grounded)
wire and one grounding wire. From table Wire Volume Unit, each #14 wire uses 2.00
cubic inches in the box. The total volume units required by the hot (ungrounded) and
neutral (grounded) wires is eight cubic inches.
Volume units for devices. Allow two volume units for each device (switch or
receptacle) in the box. Base the volume units on the largest hot (ungrounded) or
neutral (grounded) wire in the box. Example: NM cable size #14 and #12 are in a box.
From Table 47, #14 wire uses 2.00 cubic inches and #12 wire uses 2.25 cubic inches.
Allow 4.5 cubic inches volume units (2 2.25 cubic inches) for each switch or
receptacle in the box based on the volume of the larger #12 NM cable.
Volume units for grounding wires. Allow one volume unit for all grounding wires in
the box. Base the volume unit on the largest hot (ungrounded) or neutral (grounded)
wire in the box.
Volume units for clamps. Allow one volume unit for all internal cable clamps in the
box, if any. Base the volume unit on the largest hot (ungrounded) or neutral
(grounded) wire in the box.
Volume units for fittings. Allow one volume unit for all fittings in the box, if any. Base
the volume unit on the largest hot (ungrounded) or neutral (grounded) wire in the box.

Electrical Box Fill Chart


MAXIMUM NUMBER OF VOLUME UNITS
PERMITTED (SEE NOTES BELOW)

BOX SIZE AND SHAPE

(If volume not labeled by 14 AWG


manufacturer)

12 AWG

10 AWG

8
AWG

JUNCTION BOXES
4 11/4 R or O

4 11/2 R or O

4 2-1/8 R or O

10

4 11/4 S

4 11/2 S

10

4 2-1/8 S

15

13

12

10

411/16 11/4 S

12

11

10

411/16 11/2 S

14

13

11

411/16 2-1/8 S

21

18

16

14

3 2 11/2"

3 2 2"

3 2 21/4"

3 2 21/2"

3 2 23/4"

3 2 31/2"

4 2-1/8 1-1/2"

4 2-1/8 1-7/8

4 2-1/8 2-1/8"

DEVICE BOXES

Notes:
R = Round; O = Octagonal; S = Square or rectangular
Each hot or neutral wire entering the box is counted as one volume unit
Grounding wires are counted as one volume unit in totaldo not count each one
individually.
Raceway fittings and external cable clamps do not count. Internal cable connectors
and straps count as one volume unit.
Devices (switches and receptacles mainly) each count as two volume units.
When calculating total volume units, any non-wire components should be assigned
the gauge of the largest wire in the box.
For wire gauges not shown here, contact your local electrical inspections office.

BOX SUPPORT IN WALLS, CEILINGS & FLOORS


1. Provide support for boxes that rigidly and securely fasten them in place. You may use
nails or screws to support these boxes.
2. Protect screws inside boxes so that the threads will not damage the wires.
3. Wood braces used to support boxes must be at least one by two inches.
4. Use cut-in or old work retrofit boxes only if they have approved clamps or anchors
that are identified for the location where they are installed.
DAMP LOCATIONS
1. Install a receptacle box cover that is weatherproof when the cover is closed and a plug
is not inserted into a receptacle located in a damp location. This applies to 15-amp and
20-amp receptacles. A damp area is protected from direct contact with water. Refer to
the definition of damp location. You may use a receptacle cover suitable for wet
locations in a damp location.
2. Install a watertight seal between a flush-mounted receptacle and its faceplate. This will
require a gasket or sealant between the finished surface (such as stucco, brick, or siding)
and the faceplate.
WET LOCATIONS
1. Install a receptacle box cover that is weatherproof when the cover is closed on any
receptacle located in a wet location. This applies to 15-amp and 20-amp receptacles in
any indoor or outdoor wet location. This applies regardless of whether or not a plug is
inserted into the receptacle.
2. Install a watertight seal between a flush-mounted receptacle and its faceplate. This will
require a gasket or sealant between the finished surface (such as stucco, brick, or siding)
and the faceplate.

Resources & Photo Credits


Applied Energy Innovations
Solar, wind, geothermal installations
612-532-0384
www.appliedenergyinnovations.org
Black & Decker
Portable power tools and more
www.blackandddecker.com
Broan-NuTone, LLC
Vent fans
800-558-1711
www.broan.com
Generac Power Systems
Standby generators and switches
www.generac.com
www.guardiangenerators.com
Honda Power Equipment/American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
Standby generators
678-339-2600
www.hondapowerequipment.com
Kohler
Standby generators
800-4-Kohler
www.kohlerco.com
Pass & Seymour Legrand
Home automation products
800-223-4185
www.passandseymour.com
Red Wing Shoes Co.
Work shoes and boots shown throughout book
800-733-9464
www.redwingshoes.com
Unistrut Metal Framing

Solar panel mounts


800-521-7730
www.unistrut.com
Westinghouse
Ceiling fans, decorative lighting, solar outdoor lighting, & other lighting fixtures and bulbs
800-245-5874
Purchase here: www.budgetlighting.com
www.westinghouse.com
Photos on p. 41, inset 45, and 82 (left) courtesy of istock.com
Photos on p. 83 (top right & lower) courtesy of Generac Power Systems, Inc.

Index
A
AFCI, location requirements, 121
Air-conditioning
circuit maps for 240-volt receptacles for window units, 19
circuit needed for, 55
generators and, 84, 85
Amperage
measuring, 9697
receptacles and, 118
service panels and, 2829
Appliances
dishwashers
circuit needed for, 65
connecting receptacle for, 71
food disposers
circuit needed for, 65
connecting GFCI receptacle and switch for, 69
connecting receptacle for, 71
microwaves
circuit needed for, 65
connecting, 70
ranges
circuit map for 120/240-volt receptacle, 18
circuit needed for, 65
installing 120/240-volt receptacle for, 70
small
circuit maps for, 17
circuit needed for, 65
connecting receptacles for, 68
window air conditioners, circuit map for 240-volt receptacles for, 19

B
Backup power supply
choosing a generator for, 83, 84
cord-connected transfer switches, 85
generator tips, 85
maintaining and operating automatic standby generator, 87

operating manual system, 87


overview of, 82
running & maintaining, 86
typical system, 84
Baseboard heaters
circuit maps for 240-volt, 18
connecting 240-volt, 63
Basic problems and solutions, 9
Bathrooms
circuit for, 54
connecting GFCI receptacle and, 59
diagram for circuit map for 15-amp, 120-volt circuit for bathroom & closet, 5657
Bedrooms, diagram for circuit map for 15-amp, 120-volt basic lighting/ receptacle circuit
for, 5657
Bonding. see Grounding & bonding an upgraded system

C
Cable television jacks
circuit needed for, 55
circuit shown on wiring diagram, 57
Cables, non-metallic (NM), 115117
Ceiling fan/light fixture combinations
circuit maps for units controlled by ganged switches, 20
connecting, 61
Ceiling fans, connecting switches for, 60
Ceiling fixture, connecting surface-mounted, 72
Circuit breaker panels
connecting circuit breakers, 3233
description of parts of, 3031
installing subpanels, 3437
overview of, 2829
safety and, 28, 31
upgrading
locating, 40
overview of, 3839
replacing main service panels, 4145
Circuit breakers, installing, 3233
Circuit maps
ceiling fans/light fixtures controlled by ganged switches, 25
diagrams for

bedroom and bathroom wiring, 5657


kitchen wiring, 6667
double receptacle circuits with shared neutral wire, 16
double receptacle small-appliance with GFCI & separate neutral wire, 17
double receptacle small-appliance with GFCI & shared neutral wire, 17
four-way switches and light fixture, 2324
ganged single-pole switches controlling separate light fixtures, 19
ganged switches controlling vent fan and light fixtures, 20
GFCI receptacles
multiple-location protection with switch & light, 13
single-location protection, 12
multiple four-way switches controlling light fixtures, 24
120/240-volt range receptacle, 18
120-volt duplex receptacles wired in sequence, 12
overview of, 11
single-pole switch & light fixtures, 1315
switch-controlled split receptacles, 1516
three-way switches & light fixtures, 2021
three-way switches & light fixtures with duplex receptacle, 22
three-way switches & multiple light fixtures, 2223
240-volt appliance receptacles, 19
240-volt baseboard heaters, thermostat, 18
Circuit tester, touchless, 95
Circuits, selecting backup, 89
Circuits, short, 102103
Clearances, 110111
Codes
current wiring methods, 114
general requirements, 105111
National Electrical Code, inspections and knowledge of, 104
overview of, 104
for range, 18
requirements for rooms without overhead lights, 15
for window air conditioner, 19
Computers, circuit needed for, 54
Continuity
neutral & equipment grounding wire, 109
testing for, 99
Current, measuring, 97

D
DC lighting circuit, how to wire, 7781
Device boxes, 122124
Diagnostic tools, 9495
Dishwashers
circuit needed for, 65
connecting receptacle for, 71
Disposers
circuit needed for, 65
connecting GFCI receptacle and switch for, 69
connecting receptacle for, 71

E
Electrical box fill chart, 124
Electrical code. see Codes
Electrical panels
general requirements for, 105106
inspecting for proper grounding, 112
installing subpanels, 3437
overview of, 2829
Electrode wires, 113
Enclosures, 122123

F
Feeders, 113
Food disposers
circuit needed for, 65
connecting GFCI receptacle and switch for, 69
connecting receptacle for, 71
Four-way switches, circuit maps for, 2324
Framing member chart, 115

G
Generators
choosing, 83, 84
on-demand, 83
maintaining and operating automatic standby, 87
portable, 83, 86
standby, 93
tips for, 85

transfer switches for, 85


GFCI receptacles
circuit maps for
double receptacle small-appliance, 17
multiple-location protection, 13
single-location protection, 12
connecting bathroom, 59
installing
disposer switch and, 69
two switches for recessed lights and, 69
location requirements, 120121
Grounding & bonding
at service panels and subpanels, 112
upgraded system
ground rod installation, 49
how to bond metallic piping, 4748
how to install a grounding electrode system, 4951
overview of, 46
tips for, 51
tips for grounding the panel, 48
Grounding electrodes, 113
Grounding wires, 52

H
Heaters
circuit map for thermostat and 240-volt baseboard, 18
circuit needed for, 55
connecting 240-volt baseboard, 63
connecting 240-volt blower, 62
Hot wires, 52

I
Inspections, preparing for, 104

J
Junction boxes, 122124

K
Kitchen remodels
circuits likely wanted, 6465

diagrams for circuit maps, 6667


installing under-cabinet lights, 73
wiring connections, 6873
wiring diagram for, 6667
see also Appliances

L
Light fixtures
box installation, 122
circuit maps for
ceiling fans/light fixtures controlled by ganged switches, 25
four-way switches and, 2324
ganged single-pole switches controlling separate, 19
ganged switches controlling vent fan and light fixtures, 20
GFCI receptacle, switch & light fixture wired for multiple-location protection, 13
multiple four-way switches and, 24
single-pole switch and, 1315
three-way switches & multiple, 2223
three-way switches and, 2022
connecting, 59
ceiling fan/light fixture combinations, 61
GFCI and two switches for recessed, 69
installing under-cabinet, 73

M
Main service panels
overview of, 28
replacing
locating, 40
overview of, 3839
steps in, 4145
safety and, 6
Microwaves
circuit needed for, 65
connecting, 70
Multimeters
clamp-on, 96
digital autoranging, 94, 95, 96
overview of, 96

N
National Electrical Code (NEC), 104 see also Codes
Neutral wires, 52, 100101
Non-metallic (NM) cables
installation of, 116117
maximum ampacity, 115
rules for, 115

O
Open neutrals
overview of, 100
possible symptoms of, 100
troubleshooting, 101

P
Permits. see Codes
Plug-in tester, 95
PV panels, mounting, 76

R
Ranges
circuit map for 120/240-volt receptacle, 18
circuit needed for, 65
installing 120/240-volt receptacle for, 70
Receptacles
amperage and, 118
circuit maps for
double receptacle small-appliance with GFCI & separate neutral wires, 17
double receptacle small-appliance with GFCI & shared neutral wire, 17
double with shared neutral wire, 16
GFCI receptacle, switch & light fixture wired for multiple-location protection, 13
GFCI receptacle wired for single-location protection, 12
light fixtures with three-way switches and duplex receptacle, 22
switch-controlled split, 1516
240-volt appliance receptacles, 19
connecting, 61
dishwashers, 71
food disposers, 71
small appliance, 68
switched, 61

switches for stairway lights and, 61


installing
20-amp, 120-volt for microwaves, 70
kitchen countertop, 119
120/240-volt for ranges, 70
in rooms, 118
measuring at, 97
Room additions
circuits likely wanted, 5455
wiring diagram for, 5657

S
Safety
overview of, 6
tips for, 79
Service drops, 110111
Service entrance head, safety and, 6
Service grounding at two buildings using four-wire feeder, 113
Service panels
connecting circuit breakers, 3233
grounding & bonding at, 112
installing subpanels, 3437
overview of, 28
safety and, 28
upgrading
locating, 40
overview of, 3839
replacing main service panels, 4145
Single-pole switches
connecting, 59
connecting timer and, 58
Single-pole switches & light fixtures
circuit map for ganged controlling separate, 19
circuit maps for, 1315
Small appliances
circuit maps for, 17
circuit needed for, 65
connecting receptacles for, 68
Solar light circuit
how to wire a DC lighting circuit, 7781

mounting PV panels, 76
overview of, 74
schematic diagram for, 75
Stairway lights, connecting switches for receptacle and, 60
Subpanels
grounding & bonding at, 112
installing
overview of, 34
planning, 35
steps in, 3537
overview of, 28
room additions and, 5455
Switched receptacles, connecting, 61
Switches
circuit maps for
ceiling fans/light fixtures controlled by ganged, 25
ganged controlling vent fans and light fixtures, 20
GFCI receptacle, switch & light fixture wired for multiple-location protection, 13
light fixtures and four-way, 2324
light fixtures and multiple four-way, 24
light fixtures with duplex receptacle and three-way, 22
single-pole ganged controlling separate light fixtures, 1920
single-pole switch & light fixtures, 1314
switch-controlled split receptacles, 1516
three-way & light fixture, 2022
three-way & multiple light fixtures, 2223
connecting
ceiling fans, 60
GFCI and two switches for recessed lights, 69
GFCI receptacle and disposer, 69
receptacle & stairway light, 60
single-pole, 59
three-way, 72
timer and single-pole, 58
three-way, testing, 99
transfer, 83, 85
installing manual, 8893

T
Telephone outlets, circuit for, 55

Testers, 95
Thermostats
circuit maps for, 18
circuit needed for, 5
connecting 250-volt, 62
Three-way switches
circuit maps for
light fixtures and, 2021
light fixtures with duplex receptacle and, 22
multiple light fixtures and, 2223
connecting, 72
testing, 99
Timers, connecting single-pole switches and, 58
Troubleshooting
basic problems and solutions, 9
diagnostic tools & testing and, 9599
open neutrals, 100101
overview of, 95
short circuits, 102103
240-volt baseboard heaters
circuit map for thermostat and, 14
connecting, 63
240-volt blower heaters, connecting, 62
240-volt thermostats, connecting, 62

U
Under-cabinet lights, installing, 73

V
Vent fans
circuit maps for ganged switches controlling light fixtures and, 20
connecting, 59
Voltage, measuring, 98
Volume unit chart, 123

W
Window air conditioners, circuit map for 240-volt receptacles for, 19
Wire gauge
capacity and, 109
connectors and, 107

Wires
color coding, 109
connecting to terminals, 108
extended from boxes, 108
size chart, 109
splicing, 107
volume unit chart, 123

Copyright 2012
Creative Publishing international, Inc.
400 First Avenue North, Suite 300
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
1-800-328-0590
www.creativepub.com
All rights reserved
Printed in China
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Digital Edition: 978-1-61058-607-8
Softcover Edition: 978-1-58923-414-7
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Advanced home wiring: current with 2012-2015 codes. -- 3rd ed.
p. cm. -- (Complete guide)
At head of title: Black & Decker
Includes index.
Summary: This updated 3rd edition of Black & Deckers Advanced Home Wiring
features techniques, materials, and projects for advanced home wiring installations,
repairs, and maintenance, consistent with 2012-2015 NECA codes--Provided by
publisher.
ISBN 978-1-58923-702-5 (soft cover)
1. Electric wiring, Interior--Amateurs manuals. I. Creative Publishing International. II.
Title: Black & Decker
TK9901.A34 2012
621.31924--dc23

2011052375
President/CEO: Ken Fund
Group Publisher: Bryan Trandem
Home Improvement Group
Associate Publisher: Mark Johanson
Managing Editor: Jenny Miller
Developmental Editor: Jordan Wiklund
Creative Director: Michele Lanci
Art Direction/Design: Brad Springer, Brenda Canales, Kim Winscher
Staff
Lead Photographer: Corean Komarec
Set Builder: James Parmeter
Production Managers: Laura Hokkanen, Linda Halls
Edition Editor: Chris Sibell
Page Layout Artist: Danielle Smith
Shop Help: Charles Boldt, John Keane
Technical Reviewer: Bruce Barker
Advanced Home Wiring
Created by: The Editors of Creative Publishing international, Inc., in cooperation with Black
& Decker.
Black & Decker is a trademark of The Black & Decker Corporation and is used under
license.
NOTICE TO READERS
For safety, use caution, care, and good judgment when following the procedures
described in this book. The publisher and Black & Decker cannot assume responsibility
for any damage to property or injury to persons as a result of misuse of the information
provided.
The techniques shown in this book are general techniques for various applications. In
some instances, additional techniques not shown in this book may be required. Always
follow manufacturers instructions included with products, since deviating from the
directions may void warranties. The projects in this book vary widely as to skill levels
required: some may not be appropriate for all do-it-yourselfers, and some may require

professional help.
Consult your local building department for information on building permits, codes,
and other laws as they apply to your project.

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Complete Guide to Bathrooms
Complete Guide to a Better Lawn
Complete Guide to Built Ins
Complete Guide to Carpentry for Homeowners
Complete Guide to Ceramic Tile

Codes for Homeowners


Complete Guide to Decks
Complete Guide to Finishing Basements
Complete Guide to Flooring
Complete Guide to Garages
Complete Guide to Garden Walls & Fences
Complete Guide to Gazebos & Arbors
Complete Guide to a Green Home
Complete Guide to Greenhouses & Garden Projects
Complete Guide to Kitchens
Complete Guide to Landscape Projects
Complete Guide to Masonry & Stonework
Complete Guide to Outdoor Carpentry
Complete Guide to Patios & Walkways
Complete Guide to Plumbing
Complete Guide to Roofing & Siding
Complete Guide to Room Additions
Complete Guide to Sheds
Complete Guide to Windows & Entryways
Complete Guide to Wiring
Complete Outdoor Builder
Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair
Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement
Complete Photo Guide to Sheds, Barns & Outbuildings
Advanced Home Wiring
Trim & Finish Carpentry
Working With Drywall